January 28, 2020
Independent, three-year research report finds Community Schools significantly improve graduation rates and test scores; reduce chronic absenteeism and disciplinary incidents
Video available at: https://youtu.be/zYjr4oACBi4-vo
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today announced an independent report found the Community Schools initiative, which is changing the way schools across the City serve students by delivering social services within the school environment, is resulting in improved attendance, graduation rates and test scores. Today, the Department of Education (DOE) released the New York City Community Schools Impact Report, an independent analysis conducted by the nonpartisan, nonprofit RAND Corporation. The evaluation tracked 113 Community Schools over three years, and found the initiative has significantly improved student outcomes including graduation rates and math scores when compared to non-community Schools.
“The jury is in – community schools work. Since Day One, we have been on a mission to no longer let zip code determine academic success, and community schools are one way we are delivering on that promise. From supporting students with in-school mental health services, to homework help and dental check-ups, these schools improve academic outcomes and cater to the unique needs of every student,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“When we work together to meet the needs of the whole child our children succeed, our schools succeed, and our City succeeds. This means not only challenging our students academically, but also providing them eye glasses, mental health support, coats and shoes,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Our Community Schools are going above and beyond, improving students’ lives each year, and serving as an example of how we advance equity and excellence for all.”
Mayor de Blasio launched the Community Schools Initiative in 2014 to integrate academics, health, and social services inside of schools, and better connect students and families to support they need through partnerships with community-based organizations (CBOs). The initial goal was to open 100 schools by 2017. Today, there are 267 Community Schools serving 135,000 students and families citywide, making it the largest Community Schools Initiative in the in the United States.
RAND’s impact report, entitled Illustrating the Promise of Community Schools: An Assessment of the Impact of the New York City Community Schools Initiative, covered the 2015-16 through 2017-18 school years and found significant results including:
Increases in graduation rates
During the 2017-2018 school year, the graduation rate for community schools was 7.2 percentage points higher than non-community schools. Additionally, throughout the three year study, student on-time grade matriculation was 1.2 percentage points and 4.5 percentage points higher for elementary/middle and high school Community Schools, respectively, compared to comparison schools.
Over the three year study, Community School high school students accumulated an average 1.3 more credits per student, per year compared to students in the comparison schools. Assuming on track progress is 11 credits per year, 1.3 credits is equivalent to 12 percent of a regular school year’s accumulation.
Increases in math achievement
Students in grades 3 and 8 received scores 0.13 standard deviations higher than their comparison group. In other words, while the average student citywide is in the 50th percentile, by attending a Community School, the average student would be in the 54th percentile.
Significant reductions in chronic absenteeism
A student is considered to be chronically absent if they miss ten or more days of school in a year. In the three years of the report, chronic absenteeism was 7.3 percentage points lower in elementary and middle school community schools compared to the comparison schools. When comparing high schools, chronic absenteeism was 8.3 percentage points lower. This decrease was greatest among students in temporary housing, whose rate of chronic absenteeism was 9.3 percentage points lower.
Decreases in school-based disciplinary incidents
Throughout the three year study, disciplinary incidents declined sharply in elementary and middle Community Schools compared to non-community schools. Community Schools saw an average of 0.10 fewer disciplinary incidents per student per year at the elementary and middle school level compared to comparison schools. In other words, in a school with 500 students, there were 50 fewer incidents every year. Disciplinary incidents also declined among students with disabilities, with 0.16 fewer disciplinary incidents per student, per year, and Black students, with 0.15 fewer disciplinary incidents per student, per year.
The full report is available here.
Community Schools are part of the Mayor’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda, which is building a pathway to success in college and careers for all students. 3-K for All and Pre-K for All are strengthening foundational skills and instruction earlier; Universal Literacy is working towards ensuring every student is reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade; and Algebra for All is improving elementary- and middle-school math instruction and ensuring that all 8th graders have access to algebra. Equity and Excellence for All is also offering students more challenging, hands-on, college and career-aligned coursework – Computer Science for All brings 21st-century computer science instruction to every school, and AP for All is giving all high school students access to at least five Advanced Placement courses. Along the way, they are giving students and families additional support through College Access for All, Single Shepherd, and investment in Community Schools. Efforts to create more diverse and inclusive classrooms, outlined in the 2017 New York City school diversity plan and through diversity pilots taking root in eight districts, are central to this pathway.
“Community schools build trust by strengthening relationships among students, school staff, families, and community partners.” said Christopher Caruso, the Senior Executive Director of the NYC DOE’s Office of Community Schools. “The RAND study provides further evidence that students do better academically and socially when families and educators are working in partnership to improve learning opportunities and relationships at the schools.”
"Supporting the whole child is the basis for the Community Schools model, and I am thrilled that RAND's finding demonstrate the positive impacts this strategy has on our students. I look forward to continuing to support this work in the Office of Community Schools, the Division of School Climate and Wellness, and the whole Department of Education," said Deputy Chancellor for the Division of School Climate and Wellness LaShawn Robinson.
“New York City's efforts to improve our schools acknowledge the importance both of in-class instruction and the effects of poverty, historic inequalities, and lack of resources, and we now have strong evidence showing that the comprehensive services offered by Community Schools improve children’s educational outcomes," said Matt Klein, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. "We are proud to have joined with our City government and community partners in supporting this research, which helps the City to improve its strategies, build on what works, and make smart investments. Assembling evidence that can be used to improve government services, through rigorous independent evaluations such as this one, is key to our mission."
“These findings are notable given that the New York City Community Schools is such a large program compared with community schools that have been evaluated thus far. The initiative moved the needle on several student outcomes, such as attendance, grade completion, credit accumulation, math achievement, and disciplinary incidents, although it didn’t lead to significant changes in reading achievement in elementary and middle schools or a reduction in disciplinary incidents and school climate measures in high schools,” said RAND Corporation researcher William Johnston.
“Community schools are designed to tackle poverty and eliminate barriers to learning. By bringing services and resources inside schools, we give our students the support they need to thrive - and we do it in such a way that parents and the larger community are part of the solution,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers.
“Today’s findings by the non-partisan RAND Corporation are a positive sign that the Community School initiative benefits works for its students developing the skills and aptitude necessary to succeed as students further matriculate into secondary and higher education,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “I commend Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carranza on the results of this Community Schools initiative and look forward to seeing these integrated and cohesive partnership between schools, social services, and community-based organizations grow and prosper.”
“The Community Schools initiative is a model that I have been proud to support here in Brooklyn through significant capital investments. It takes a whole-child approach to improving student performance while reducing some of the chronic inequities that plague our education system, providing wraparound services to help address the many challenges a child faces living in an underserved community, which often negatively impacts their ability to learn and thrive in the classroom. The data show that this model is making a real difference, and we should continue to build on its success here in Brooklyn and throughout the five boroughs,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
“It’s clear—community schools benefit students in so many ways,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “When social services and schools go hand-in-hand, the results are undeniable. I applaud the de Blasio Administration for its hard work on this initiative.”
State Senator Robert Jackson said, "I am so pleased to see the RAND study show with data what we have known on the ground to be true: Community Schools work! The very first Community School in New York City opened in District 6 while I was the school board president in the early 1990s with the tireless work of Children’s Aid Society. Since then, I have been a staunch advocate for Community Schools and appreciate Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Carranza's ongoing support of this evidence-based model. New York City continues to lead the way in this movement to change the way we think about public education, where schools become hubs that serve an expanded set of stakeholders in our communities."
"A child’s school years help set their values and goals for adulthood. I am pleased that the Community Schools Initiative is helping reduce absenteeism and the ability of students to achieve higher test scores. Students don’t always get second chances and this city initiative is getting results,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz.
“Our young people face many life challenges and our public schools should provide both a healthy and safe learning environment. I am a strong advocate of Community Schools because they offer much needed social services within the school community. These services often are not available to NYC youngsters because of the financial and scheduling burdens some of their families face. I strongly support Community Schools in New York,” said Assembly Member Jeffrion L. Aubry.
“As a staunch education advocate, I am very excited and pleased to see that community schools are increasing in graduation rates and student achievement and that there has been a decrease in chronic absenteeism. Education is a basic human right and we all must continue to create space for our young people to excel and grow efficiently,” said Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman.
Assembly Member Michael DenDekker said, “I am pleased that Community Schools are flourishing and preparing New York City students for college and the real world. Providing social services to students is the right thing to do and is leading to better outcomes citywide. This shows that we should allocate additional resources and funds to the Community Schools initiative so that more students can receive this vital support.”
“So many students face tremendous obstacles and our city needs to do a better job at protecting all of the students who call New York City home. The wraparound services and parent involved network provided at community schools offers students the ability to close the achievement gap and reach their academic goals. With budget season approaching, let’s continue to invest in a proven roadmap that leads to success for our students,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education.
“The RAND Corporation’s Impact Study demonstrates the effectiveness of our Community Schools increasing overall graduation rates and keeping our scholars engaged in the class room, in addition to decreasing absenteeism and reducing disciplinary incidents. Schools are the cornerstones of our children’s developmental and educational experiences. As a mom, I am thrilled to see our community schools empowering our students to excel, and will ensure that our schools are highly equipped to train our next generation of young leaders,” said Council Member Laurie Cumbo.
“The Rand study on the impact of community schools confirms what we have known: addressing the social and emotional needs of children is an essential step for improving academic outcomes, behavior and attendance. The Mayor, chancellor and the Department of Education are to be commended for undertaking and sustaining this important work,” said Pedro A. Noguera, Ph.D, Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA.
“New York City has become a national leader in pursuing the vision of Community Schools that seek to meet the needs of the whole child. The impressive results from the RAND Corporation’s new, rigorous study should provide guidance to others around the country who are working to create developmentally healthy environments that support student success,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus, Stanford University and President, Learning Policy Institute.