The Virginia School University Partnership is an educational consortium composed of Virginia public school divisions from across Virginia, the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, and other educational entities. The Partnership is dedicated to providing high quality professional development and promoting professional collaboration among educators in order to improve instruction and increase student achievement.
Founded in 1986, The Virginia School University Partnership (VSUP) joined the National Network for Education Renewal (NNER), initiated by John Goodlad for the purpose of “simultaneously improving schools and the education of educators.” The NNER, which consisted of thirteen partnerships in as many states, was based on the premise that the needed reformation of America’s education system could best be facilitated by collaborative organizations of public schools and colleges.
Since 1986, VSUP has worked to build a foundation of support and collaboration among its members. The original Virginia Partnership was composed of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, eight Central Virginia school divisions and the District of Columbia Public Schools. In the fall of 2006, VSUP was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization to give the organization greater flexibility in its development and provision of services. The Virginia School University Partnership has grown to include more than sixty-five public school divisions from across the state of Virginia, and several University of Virginia schools and centers (including the Curry School of Education, the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the School of Arts and Sciences, the Darden School of Business, and the Engineering School).
The Board of Directors is responsible for the overall governance of the organization. The superintendents from each member school division and the Dean of the Curry School of Education (or a designee) serve on the Board of Directors, which appoints the Executive Director to implement their policy decisions. Meetings of the Board of Directors feature presentations by Curry School faculty members on the latest educational research and collaborative projects with local school divisions and also provide a forum for addressing issues of importance to members.
Each division is also asked to appoint a representative to serve on the Steering Committee of VSUP’s Professional Development Consortium. This Steering Committee, composed of school division assistant superintendents, instructional leaders from member divisions, and faculty representatives from the University of Virginia, meets three times during the academic year. The Executive Director works with the Steering Committee members to assess the professional development needs of Partnership members and to plan and coordinate workshops and conferences to address those needs. These meetings also provide a vehicle for exchanging ideas, sharing innovative programs, and addressing the challenges of local, state, and national initiatives.
VSUP currently has an operating budget of more than $150,000. Operating expenses are paid for by conference registration fees and annual membership dues. Membership fees for each school division are based on the following structure: each school division pays $800 per 1,000 students ADM. No school division pays less than $1,200 for membership, and no school division pays more than $6,000 for membership.
The Virginia School University Partnership provides a forum for sharing best practices in education and numerous opportunities for improving instruction using the latest educational research and resources.
A few examples of the specific services that VSUP provides include:
• High-quality professional development led by state and national experts designed to meet the current needs of member school divisions.
• Ongoing access to networking, informally and formally, with other school divisions for professional support and collaboration regarding current instructional issues and challenges.
• Partnership with the Curry School of Education and the UVA School of Continuing and Professional Studies providing access to research-based practices.
• Opportunities to participate in UVA grants, research, and special projects.
• Access to VSUP Test & Task Bank with more than 8,000 items and more than 25 tasks and rubrics aligned to Virginia Standards of Learning in various content areas.
• Opportunity for participation in a Community of Practice composed of instructional leaders who meet four times a year to create, review, and revise items, tasks, and rubrics for the VSUP Test & Task Bank.
• Student Leadership Conference provided free of charge each year for all VSUP member high schools
• Annual Summer Leadership Institute on key state and national educational initiatives.
• Opportunities for global travel to learn about education in other countries and to partner with foreign schools.