Earlier this year, the Rand Corporation documented the extraordinary success that the New York City school district achieved in their implementation of the Community School model (NYC-CS) in more than 250 of their elementary, middle, and high schools.
As noted in their report:
- NYC-CS had a positive impact on student attendance for students in all grades and across all three years of the study.
- NYC-CS had a positive impact on on-time grade progression in all three years of the study, and on high school students’ graduation rates in two of the three years.
- NYC-CS led to a reduction in disciplinary incidents for elementary and middle school students but not for high school students. The reduction for high school students was smaller and not statistically significant.
- NYC-CS had a positive impact on math achievement in the third and final year, but the impact estimates on reading achievement in all three years and on math achievement in the first two years were smaller and not statistically significant.
- NYC-CS had a positive impact on credit accumulation for high school students across all three years of the study.
Teachers’ reports of shared responsibility for student success increased at elementary and middle schools in the second and third years of the study.
- The authors found a positive effect on students’ sense of connectedness to adults and peers for elementary and middle school students but only for the second year of the study period.
Released just before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the data supported the efficacy of the community school model, showing effectiveness in a large and diverse urban district. The pandemic has only heightened the needs of students and families that the community school model holistically addresses. With this understanding in mind, a new task force is being launched: The Task Force on Next Generation of Community Schools.
Chaired by Sarah Jonas, Executive Director, Office of Community Schools, New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), the Task Force will identify what it would take at the federal, state, and local levels to successfully invest in and scale Next Generation Community Schools to every neighborhood across America.
The findings will be released in a report in early 2021 with the goal of shaping our educational recovery out of the COVID-19 crisis, and, as a first step, initiating the implementation of community schools in the neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic.
Ultimately, the pandemic has shown the power and potential of community schools to serve as a source of community strength and adaptiveness. The Next Generation Community Schools Task Force will create innovative environments for learning that promote educational equity and community resilience, and improve whole-child outcomes, including academic performance, health, and social and emotional well-being. By further investing in the resources and capacities needed to build strong communities within schools, between schools and families, and in the neighborhoods where students live, Next Generation Community Schools can serve as the engines of strength that help our nation ably face its future challenges.
The work of this task force will benefit all community schools nationwide, and continue to position New York City as a model district for the community school model. You can read more about this new task force here.