COMMUNITY SCHOOL SUCCESS IN THE BAY AREA AND BEYOND

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1 COMMUNITY SCHOOL SUCCESS IN THE BAY AREA AND BEYOND Children living in poverty are five times more likely to drop out of high school than their higher-income peers, and only 9 percent will obtain a college degree. 2 Over 20 percent of American children live in poverty. That means that every day, millions of students go to school hungry, sick or worried about challenges at home. 1 Even in the prosperous San Francisco Bay Area, more than one in four children live in a household that is struggling to make ends meet. Children living in poverty are five times more likely to drop out of high school than their higher-income peers, and only 9 percent will obtain a college degree. 2 With so many low-income children lacking the resources for and access to a high-quality education, proven solutions like the community school model are more important than ever. ABOUT COMMUNITY SCHOOLS Community schools address the link between educational achievement and poverty by providing much more than just academic support. A community school is a public school that s been transformed into a neighborhood hub where supports like health care, food pantries, after-school programs, family resource centers and parent education classes are available right on campus. At community schools, struggling families can easily access much-needed supports that enable their children to stay focused on learning. Common to all community schools are on-site resource coordinators, a variety of community partners, a school-based needs assessment process, ongoing data collection and analysis, and site-based governance. Community school supports often include: early childhood education, remedial education, community service and service learning, restorative justice, before- and after-school programs, summer learning, nutrition and physical education, primary health and dental care, mental health services, family supports, financial and career counseling services and parent education courses such as English as a Second Language. 3 As the following research shows, community schools are not only boosting student academic performance, but also improving their health and attendance, as well as parent engagement. A good education lays the foundation for success later in life, and with community schools, more kids are getting a fair shot. Community schools nationwide are similar in structure, though the services offered at each school vary depending on factors such as family demographics, income levels and languages spoken. 1

2 A PROVEN STRATEGY, A GROWING MOVEMENT In the last decade, community schools have gained support from major players in the field of education. The U.S. Department of Education, congresses at the federal and state levels, and even many cities and local districts have launched major community school initiatives. The New York City Mayor s Office recently announced a $150 million investment to convert 94 of the city s lowest performing schools into community schools. 4 In California, cities including Oakland, San Francisco, Vallejo and Redwood City all rely on community schools to support student achievement. The community schools model has gained traction because it is a strategy that works. Across the country, community schools are seeing improved academic performance, attendance, behavior, health, English language skills and family engagement. We examine rigorous research from across the nation, paired with local Bay Area bright spots of community schools success and some of the most inspiring achievements to date. new york city In the mid-1990s, the earliest evaluation of The Children s Aid Society community schools assessed proficiency rates of the same group of students as they moved from grade to grade. Elementary school students proficiency rates in reading rose from 10 percent to 35 percent over three school years and math proficiency rates moved from 23 percent to 56 percent over the same period. Similar progress occurred among middle schools students proficiency rates in math increased from 37 percent to 51 percent three years later. 5 A subsequent evaluation by the New York City Department of Education found that Children s Aid Society community schools averaged greater student achievement gains than other local schools. 6 emeryville, california HIGHER ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE Students supported by community schools have consistently higher grades and test scores. Research has shown that community schools can raise academic performance at the elementary, middle and high school levels. In its first year as a community school, Anna Yates Elementary saw a 41-point increase in its Academic Performance Index (API) score. The API is a single number between 200 and 1,000 that reflects a school s performance level based on the results of statewide assessments. This remarkable improvement was the result of new collaborations that enabled the school to offer after-school academic support and wraparound services for entire families. This API increase is almost double the average annual increase seen at the county level. 7 2

3 BETTER ATTENDANCE AND FEWER SUSPENSIONS Chronic absence, defined as missing 10 percent or more school days in a year, is a strong predictor of poor academic performance. Students who are chronically absent have a significantly higher likelihood of dropping out of school or being suspended. To help students to miss fewer days of class, community schools often offer services like on-campus dental care and health insurance consultations. By ninth grade, missing 20 percent or more of the school year is a better predictor of dropping out than a student s test scores. 8 providence, rhode island According to data collected in late 2009, students from Providence Full Service Community Schools showed 55 percent fewer incidences of chronic absenteeism than the general school population. 9 vallejo, california Beginning in 2012, the Vallejo City Unified School District hired new staff members to manage the partnerships between schools and service providers in the community. A major piece of the initiative focuses on restorative justice and providing support for students facing multiple disciplinary procedures. The strategy is working. Since 2010, student disciplinary referrals have dropped by 75 percent, suspensions have dropped by nearly 70 percent and expulsions are down by 50 percent. Community confidence in the school district has improved significantly, and more parents are participating in school activities. 10 HEALTHIER STUDENTS Health-related problems play a major role in poor academic performance, as health impacts a student s motivation and ability to participate in the classroom. Recent research has provided compelling evidence that educationally-relevant health disparities can hinder the ability to learn in at least five areas: sensory perceptions, cognition, connectedness and engagement, absenteeism and dropping out. 11 Many community schools support student and family health by making community health agencies, nurses, dentists and mental health experts available on campus. alameda county, california Alameda County Health Care Services Agency works to improve health and education outcomes for more than a third of the student population across seven school districts in Alameda County. Thirty-four percent of the students served by the agency do not have health insurance, and 45 percent lack dental insurance. Students who received behavioral health services showed improved academic performance, greater emotional stability and interpersonal skills, and better overall health. After their first year of operation, 95 percent of REACH Ashland youth reported an increase in the use of contraceptives, 92 percent said the program helped them develop goals, and 78 percent said their grades had improved over the last year. 3

4 tulsa, oklahoma Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative, in partnership with their local community council, has served more than 9,000 students across 25 schools annually since Providing on-campus health clinics and wellness programs has narrowed the achievement gap in mathematics and increased parent engagement and leadership. 12 san francisco, california The San Francisco Wellness Initiative, which has offices in community schools throughout San Francisco, served more than 7,500 students in The most utilized services were medical care, case management and behavioral health counseling. 13 A full 90 percent of these students feel that an adult in the Wellness Center really cares about them, 14 and 95 percent of the students reported a decrease in their use of tobacco, drugs or alcohol (among students attempting to reduce their substance use). 15 Additionally, 81 percent reported that they now come to school more often, and 69 percent are doing better in school. 16 INCREASED FAMILY ENGAGEMENT Empowering families with a wide variety of support services in one location produces consistent and sustainable increases of parent participation in the education of their children. Family engagement programs in community schools include programs such as parent leadership and parenting education, GED and ESL classes, food and clothing pantries, opportunities to participate in school decision-making, and even programs that place parents inside the classroom in support roles or as community school staff members. 17 In the school year, there were approximately 1.4 million English language learners in California public schools, and nearly 2.7 million California students speak a language other than English in their homes. These students represent 43 percent of the state s public school enrollment. 18 The John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities found that students and parents who participate in English language learning programs show statistically significant growth in English language development scores, as well as standardized state test scores. 19 Children with parents in family literacy programs had a 97 percent school attendance rate. 20 redwood city, california Redwood City Community Schools, in partnership with the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Families, found that among the three key community school strategy areas extended learning, family engagement and social services support participation rates in family engagement showed the biggest increase. Family engagement rose from 54% in 2012 to 70% in Participants in family engagement opportunities were more likely to be English learners and economically disadvantaged than non-participants. 21 4

5 CONCLUSION More than half of all public school students in the United States come from low-income households, but there are only about 5,000 community schools across the country that s just 5 percent of all public primary and secondary schools. We cannot continue to rely on an education system that operates as if all children have the same support and resources outside of the classroom. Community schools are proving that we can help level the playing field by addressing student challenges that are often believed to be beyond the control of schools. Educators, policymakers and social service organizations should continue to explore funding and partnership opportunities with community schools so that more of our children can get a quality education, regardless of their zip code or household income. WORKS CITED: 1. National Center for Children in Poverty Child Poverty topics/childpoverty.html 2. Aud, S., Hussar, W., Johnson, F., Kena, G., Roth, E., Manning, E., Wang, X., & Zhang, J. (2012). The condition of education (NCES ). Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved [date]. Source: & Poverty and High School Dropouts, American Psychological Association May United States Department of Education, Full Service Community Schools Program 4. Coalition for Community Schools 5. Brickman, E., Ph.D. (1996). A Formative Evaluation of P.S. 5: A Children s Aid Society/Board of Education Community School, Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services. 6. Clark, H., et al. (2009). Study comparing Children s Aid Society Community Schools to Other New York City Public Schools (All Schools and Peer Schools), ActKnowledge. Kennedy, J.L. (2011). Go! Books Program Evaluation Final Report of Study Findings, New York University. 7. Communities in Schools 8. Attendance Works: Why it Matters, Making the Case 9. Communities in Schools 10. Coalition for Community Schools and the Vallejo Unified School District 11. Healthier Students are Better Learners, A Research Initiative of the Campaign for Educational Equity, Teachers College, Columbia University, March Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative, San Francisco Wellness Initiative 14. San Francisco Wellness Initiative Results and Impact Among students trying to reduce their substance use Data based on ETR Associates surveys of students participating in Wellness individual counseling, Spring 2010, San Francisco Wellness Initiative Results and Impact REPORT BY: Andrew Moffett ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Thanks to our partners and colleagues who provided thoughtful input and editing: Reuben Jacobson, National Coalition of Community Schools; Jane Quinn, National Center for Community Schools of the Children s Aid Society; Karla Ruiz, The San Francisco Foundation; Tim Tabernik, Hatchuel Tabernik and Associates; Ed Center, Erica Johnson, Kate Webb, Ena Yasuhara Li and Cherise White with United Way of the Bay Area. 16. San Francisco Wellness Initiative 17. Coalition for Community Schools 18. California Department of Education, Facts about English Learners in California CalEdFacts 19. John Gardner Center, Stanford University; Examining Student Outcomes Across Programs in Redwood City Community Schools, Sebastian Castrechini, October Communities in Schools 21. John Gardner Center, Stanford University; Redwood City Community Schools Research Report, December

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