Examples from the Field
Achievement Plus is a private/public partnership between the St. Paul Public Schools and the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, with support from the city of St. Paul, Ramsey County and the state of Minnesota. The primary goal of Achievement Plus is to improve student achievement in St. Paul's urban schools and to allow others to emulate their efforts. Three core components of the program are the St. Paul Public Schools’ standards-based curriculum, extended learning opportunities that reinforce classroom progress and learning supports that assist students and families.1
An evaluation2 of three schools in the St. Paul, Minn., area tracked 3rd- and 5th-grade scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) in reading, writing and math. In 2001, the number of students scoring at or above proficiency increased by 20 percent at one school for 3rd and 5th grades and for 3rd grade at another school. Fifth-grade scores at the third school increased by 14 percentage points.
Children's Aid Society (CAS)
CAS launched its first community school in 1992 in partnership with the New York City Public Schools to meet the pressing needs of children and families. Today CAS operates 14 campuses and more than 45 locations, serving more than 150,000 students. Three major components characterize the CAS community schools' philosophy: (a) comprehensiveness in its full-service design; (b) coherence in its planning and integration of services to promote a common vision and shared responsibility; and (c) commitment of CAS and partner schools to work together on behalf of students and families. A recent longitudinal study3 across six middle schools from 2004-2007 showed that participants achieved significant gains in math and reading when compared to a comparison group.
Communities in Schools (CIS)
CIS is a national organization that provides community resources and the link between educators and the community to help young people successfully learn, stay in school and prepare for life. They tout their results as evidence that teachers are free to teach, and students can focus on learning. CIS creates comprehensive, locally controlled and owned support systems around schools. CIS and the local school system identify the most crucial needs of students and families, then locate and coordinate community resources, volunteers and agencies to work with the public schools, both during the day and after school. CIS reports that this makes the work of educators much more effective.
A CIS national evaluation4 of matched comparison schools and CIS schools (602 schools in each group) shows positive results for graduation and dropout and math and reading outcomes. This quasi-experimental design showed a 3.6 percent improvement in dropouts and a 4.8 percent improvement in the number of students graduating. In schools adhering most closely to the model of a community school, the number of elementary (4th grade) and middle school students (8th grade) proficient in reading and math increased as well. Elementary students increased proficiency in math by 2.0 percent and in reading by 5.3 percent. Middle school students increased proficiency in math by 4.9 percent and in reading by 6.0 percent.
Texas Alliance Schools
Texas Alliance Schools was an initiative started in 1991 that focused on restructuring the relationships among community stakeholders, parents, teachers, administrators, students, business leaders and public officials. An evaluation5 compared state test scores at 144 Alliance schools with non-Alliance schools. The evaluation used 1999 and 2000 Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) data, and findings included that TAAS pass rates improved at more than double the state rate for math, reading, writing and overall. Economically disadvantaged students saw even bigger increases.
YMCA's Virtual Y Program
Since 1997, the YMCA of Greater New York's Virtual Y Program has served more than 50,000 at-risk New York City public schoolchildren. Virtual Y has operated in 66 to 100 New York City public schools annually by providing a safe place that reinforces school learning and cultivates qualities not explicitly developed in school. There is a focus on values (e.g., respect, responsibility, honesty and caring) along with reading, math and a healthy lifestyle evident in the program’s extensive written curricula. Virtual Y is school based, serving children in second through fourth grades from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. five days a week, with sites in every borough and every school district.
A 2005 evaluation6 presents the findings from seven years of evaluation of the YMCA’s Virtual Y program. Participants outperformed the comparison group in math analyses. The study, which controlled for students' demographic features, prior math skill, and school attendance, showed that post-program difference in mean math test scores between children in the two groups was significant.
1Amherst H.D. Wilder Foundation. (2008). Achievement Plus schools. Accessed on Aug. 27, 2008, from http://www.wilder.org/achievementplus.0.html
2Feister, L. (2004). The transformation: Dayton's Bluff Achievement Plus elementary school: A case study. St. Paul, MN: Achievement Plus: A Partnership for Community Schools.
3ActKnowledge. (2008). The Children's Aid Society's 21st-century learning centers: A three-year evaluation of after-school programming across six New York City middle schools: 2004-2007: Executive Summary. New York, NY: Children’s Aid Society.
4Communities in Schools. (September 2008). Communities in Schools and the model of integrated student services: A proven solution to America's dropout epidemic. Alexandria, VA.
6Eddins, G. (2005). Virtual Y the afterschool program: A ray of sunshine for urban public elementary schoolchildren. New York, NY: The National Center for School and Communities at Fordham University.