Research Brief Explores Using ESSA Funding to Support Community Schools

On November 14, the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) held a briefing to share research-based findings and recommendations on investing in community schools as a means to school improvement. The briefing was based on a study LPI recently conducted with the National Education Policy Center and highlighted community schools – that is, schools that partner with local agencies to provide integrated academic, health, and social services to the community – as a school improvement approach that meets the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requirement for “evidence-based” interventions.

At the briefing, panelists included representatives from community schools and other supporters. Community School Director Shanelle England described her work at Baltimore’s Forest Park High School, which consists of supporting her students, their families, and the school staff, as well as developing relationships with community agencies. The panelists all advocated for continued funding for the integrated models.

“Saying no child left behind is easy. Making sure no child is left behind is hard, and it takes resources,” said U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who made a special appearance at the briefing. Hoyer is a supporter of community school programs and believes that investing in them will benefit all students.

Community schools represent an improvement strategy that supports students far beyond academics. They are centered on partnerships between schools and local agencies and government to provide integrated services to students and their families. Many community schools operate year round and serve both children and adults in low-income neighborhoods as well as other areas. Although every program varies, most share these four features:

  • Integrated student supports
  • Expanded learning time and opportunities
  • Family and community engagement strategies
  • Collaborative leadership and practices

To determine whether community schools meet the ESSA requirements for evidence-based interventions, researchers reviewed 125 peer-reviewed studies and other published research on community schools. The review concluded that the evidence is indeed sufficient to support investing in the model, especially as a strategy for reforming high-poverty schools.

To learn more about the recent research and to review the full report shared at the briefing, click here.

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Sarah Verneret

AACTE Intern