Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress released a new in-depth analysis of how students and families use services at community schools and how those services work together to positively affect student outcomes.
Community schools are a promising strategy for improving student outcomes by providing wraparound services that meet the social, physical, cognitive, and economic needs of both students and families. While much of the current literature on community schools focuses on highlighting policies and practices to support the implementation of community school models, very little research examines how community schools affect student outcomes.
The report released today, "Positive Student Outcomes in Community Schools," seeks to fill that knowledge gap. Since 2007 the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, or JGC, at Stanford University has partnered with the Redwood City School District in Redwood City, California, to conduct research on participation and outcomes for students in the Redwood City School District’s community schools.
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. The analysis links 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.
The results from this analysis provide insights into potential ways that community schools interact with students and families and should inform community school efforts in other parts of the country. Key findings from the analysis include:
- Supplemental programs provided at Redwood City School District community schools reached more than 70 percent of the students enrolled at those schools.
- English learner students with consistent program participation over time showed gains in English language development scores.
- Community school programs were linked to positive attitudes about school for middle school students
The paper concludes by outlining the following key implications for policy at state, federal, and local levels:
- Policymakers at the state and federal levels should advocate for community schools as an efficient, effective way to use scarce resources by leveraging partnerships. Districts can further help by creating districtwide community school initiatives.
- Policymakers should promote collaborative structures at community schools in which students and families are more likely to make use of the multiple services available.
- Policymakers can adopt school climate standards and invest in measuring progress toward those standards, and local leaders can integrate these practices into existing classroom- or program-observation rubrics.
- Policymakers can make difficult data collection and analysis on the broad array of services offered at community schools easier by clarifying and aligning regulations on data sharing at the federal and state levels. Local community school leaders can further help by developing shared goals and indicators among partners and creating a culture for sharing an examining data together with partners.
Read the report: Positive Student Outcomes in Community Schools by Sebastian Castrechini and Rebecca A. London