NYSSBA Report: Community schools level the playing field

FOR RELEASE: November 28, 2016

CONTACT: David Albert
(518) 783-3716 or (518) 320-2221 cell

Community schools can help students overcome the adverse effects of poverty and other obstacles to academic success, according to a new research report by the New York State School Boards Association. 

The report, entitled "Community Schools: The Great Equalizer," offers an in-depth view of community schools, including a glimpse at life inside two community schools. 

"Community schools can help level the playing field for schools wrestling with a high level of student poverty and transiency," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. "By working with regional partners to provide essential student services such as health care, mental health and academic enrichment, community schools can help foster increased student achievement." 

For example, one school in upstate New York featured in the report partners with multiple local agencies to provide students with health care, on-site mental health services, nutrition information, self-esteem programs, and career development services. Another, New York City-based school works with local agencies to offer curriculum assistance, afterschool programs, dental services, and a summer camp that includes academics, music, art and field trips. 

The additional services appear to be making a difference. Students at both of the community schools highlighted in the report showed gains in both English language arts (ELA) and math proficiency from 2014 to 2016. The report points out that previous studies have shown that community schools can improve non-academic indicators – such as improved attendance and reduced suspensions – as well. 

The report also mentions community school funding sources. State lawmakers allocated $75 million in grant funding in the 2016-17 State Budget to convert struggling and persistently struggling schools into community schools. However, the report points out the importance of obtaining multiple funding sources, citing one study that revealed funding for community schools can come from a local school district, federal and state governments, foundations, municipalities, businesses and community-based organizations, among others. 

Drawing on previous research, the report concludes that it takes at least five years for any school reform effort to gain traction. 

The report is available at http://www.nyssba.org/news/2016/11/23/reports/community-schools-the-great-equalizer/.   



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