In 2014, SWCOS reorganized the their Community Schools program to be housed under the Positive Schools Center to provide direct support with community school strategies and guide our community schools to take full advantage of the training and technical assistance provided by the PSC. In 2015, three University of Maryland School of Social Work Community Schools won national awards of excellence because of their ability to address some of today’s most pressing issues and barriers that often keep students from succeeding. Two of the schools highlighted were current or former SWCOS Community Schools (Wolfe Street Academy and Benjamin Franklin High School).
Community schools ideally provide services whenever necessary, for example, daily nutritious meals for those who need them and intentional learning opportunities twelve months a year to support young people in realizing their potential. In reality, however, this rarely happens for students living in poverty. But is it possible? What are the opportunities to make it happen in Baltimore? What are the challenges and how can we address them? This paper’s purpose is to stimulate discussion of the needs, opportunities, and challenges as a prelude to action.
BERC published a report on Year 2 outcomes in 2014 that showed CommSchs were effectively recruiting the neediest students into Out-of-School-Time programs, which were showing early success with student attendance outcomes. This report documents the interim progress of the Baltimore Community School strategy by examining outcomes for the 2014-15 school year. Results show that CommSch parents more often reported being connected with community resources by school staff compared to parents at other schools. They also were more likely to report that school staff cared about their child and that the school was working closely with them to help their children learn.
As they’ve scaled up the community school model across the city, what strategies have Baltimore’s educators found most helpful? Through a series of interviews with coordinators at schools that have performed well on school climate and attendance measures, we’ve been able to identify a number of key lessons (Durham & Connolly, 2017).
In this study, we identified community schools with higher student attendance and more positive school climate than peer community schools. We interviewed those schools’ community school coordinators to learn how their work was structured to elicit “effective practices” around attendance and climate. Overall, coordinators reported that having clearly designated roles, reliable protocols and procedures, and a leader who consistently communicated expectations to parents and students helped ensure that community schools could maintain high attendance and a positive school climate. Alignment of goals across school and community stakeholders, supportive, respectful relationships with families, and cooperative partnerships with community-based organizations also served to make that work coherent and effective.
The major finding is that community schools that had been implementing community school practices for five or more years had statistically significant higher rates of attendance and lower rates of chronic absence when compared to non-community schools. There were no differences with respect to suspension.
Bester Elementary is a natural hub for connection to its 600 students and their families. Within the building, staff maintain a food pantry, and a dental unit visits the school a couple of times a year. A new school counselor, a school-family liaison and the administrative team are all connected to the Bester Community of Hope network. “We have a dedicated group who believe change can happen,” says Bachtell. That belief is beginning to take root among students as well.
Supporting Students to Be Resilient, Sucessful, and Ready to Learn: Easy Assessment of the Prince George's County TNI@School Initiative
TNI@School initially targeted 22 of the highest-need schools in the target neighborhoods based on needs related to attendance, academic performance, and a school progress index. Since then, TNI@School has worked to reach more schools and students, and as of May 2017, it provides services in 40 schools across all grade levels. Prince George’s County Public Schools serves 132,000 students in prekindergarten through grade 12 with diversity of its student population reflecting that of the County.
We conclude that well-implemented community schools lead to improvement in student and school outcomes and contribute to meeting the educational needs of low-achieving students in high-poverty schools, and sufficient research exists to meet the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) standard for an evidence-based intervention.
We focus here on community schools as a core element of an equity strategy. All children and families benefit from access to resources, opportunities, and supports to advance learning and healthy development. Community schools can address systemic barriers that limit opportunities for students and families—often based on race and class—ensuring fair access to the supports that will prepare students for future success. By tapping into a community’s assets and culture—from nonprofits to museums to businesses—community schools bring powerful learning opportunities to schools that are underresourced, and which may have narrowed the curriculum in response to fiscal constraints and testing pressures.
Programs like these have been in place at several schools since the around the turn of the millennium, thanks to partnerships like the Wilder Foundation’s Achievement Plus program, which works with the schools mentioned above. Partnerships like these have become a powerful source of social change in St. Paul, and are providing thousands of students with a top-notch education and a variety of remarkable learning opportunities every year. Moreover, the programs have empowered teachers to reach beyond the traditional confines of the schools’ walls to improve the lives of their students, families and communities.
If anyplace needed that sort of intervention, it was Albuquerque. With more than 100 of the 130 schools qualifying for Title I, and the majority of students coming from impoverished homes, it was no surprise that many schools weren’t living up to their full potential. It was abundantly clear to everyone involved that it would take more than the normal turnaround strategies to bridge the massive opportunity gap between rich and poor. It would take a community effort.
The good news is that, increasingly, research is showing that connecting all of these factors (a safe, motivating environment; enrichment; and varied learning experiences) to community yields enhanced results. When children see a connection between where and how they live and what they are learning, their interest is deepened and sustained.
Schools as Community Hubs: Integrating Support Services to Drive Educational Outcomes, Economic Studies at Brookings
Effective approaches to the problems of struggling neighborhoods—from health to school success and poverty—require the focused use of integrated strategies. Consistent with this, community schools and many charter schools now function as hubs, helping to deliver a range of services beyond education in order to prepare their students to learn and to assist families. These include social services, “two-generation” support, and population health services
This brief aims to offer a lens through which local and state unions can define their roles in advancing the community schools strategy in their school districts and states, as well as the crucial role members can play in advocacy, planning and implementation.
Positive Outcomes in Community Schools: Providing Services that Meet the Many Needs of Students and Parents
This analysis uses the Youth Data Archive, a JGC initiative that matches data across agencies that serve youth in common to ask and answer questions that the agencies could not answer alone. For this analysis, we linked student achievement data from the Redwood City School District, attendance records from program providers at community schools, and student survey data collected by the JGC, to examine participation patterns in community school programs as well as the relationship between these services and student outcomes.
Community schools purposefully partner with youth organizations, health clinics, social service agencies, food banks, higher education institutions, businesses, and others to meet students' and families' academic and nonacademic needs, so teachers are free to teach and students are ready to learn. Community schools are becoming the chosen strategy for action among these leaders. Such schools represent a comprehensive - and transformative - school reform strategy that views young people holistically and expects everyone to step up to support them.
Unlocking Opportunities: Services that Help Poor Children Succeed in the Classroom, Part 7: Schools as Community Hubs for Students and Families
Elementary and secondary schools can serve not only as a source of academic instruction, but also as community hubs that connect children and their families to other services that ultimately enhance academic goals. In many communities, schools and community-based organizations partner to deliver services identified as community priorities – physical and mental health care, afterschool programs, adult education, or early childhood supports. These “integrated student supports” in turn can lead to engaged families, stronger communities, and better academic outcomes.
The study illustrates the prevalence of expanded learning opportunities in community schools across the country. We found that expanded learning opportunities are a core component of the community schools strategy. Community schools are providing learning experiences across various time dimensions and provide intentional, structured, and coordinated partnerships at the school site that put children at the center of learning.
Using Integrated Student Supports to Keep Kids in School: A Quasi-Experimental Evaluation of Communitites in Schools
This report examines an integrated model of student support created by Communities In Schools (CIS), which is now working in about 2,400 schools and 360 school districts. The CIS model provides comprehensive and integrated services to students in different areas (academics, behavior, social skills and life skills, family outreach, health and wellness, etc.), delivered with varying intensity and duration based on students’ level of need. Level 1 short-term, preventive services are broadly available to all students at a school, whereas Level 2 intensive, longer-term, targeted services are for students at higher risk of dropping out.
Using Research Evidence to Stregthen Support for At-Risk Students: a Case Study of Communities in Schools
This brief takes a closer look at the CIS model and describes how the organization has used evaluation findings to enhance and modify its services, a story that could provide important lessons to many states and school districts in the years to come. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA — the law that replaced No Child Left Behind) pushes schools to adopt evidence-based practices and integrated student support services like those in the CIS model, and the steps CIS has taken to improve that model may help schools and districts with their own continuous improvement efforts.