Community schools are full-service neighborhood schools that move beyond the normal confines of the campus. Teachers, families, community members; and service providers partner to provide solutions to the unique problems of the students and families they serve.
For example, here in Texas and across the country, community schools have reduced health-related obstacles that cost students instructional time, and they have decreased student mobility rates so families establish roots in a neighborhood. In Austin, Reagan High School and Webb Middle School—both campuses previously targeted for closure for low academic performance—were transformed through the community-school approach. After embracing this model of grass-roots reform, Webb became the top Title I school for academics in Austin ISD, and Reagan—now an “early college” offering more college credit opportunities—more than doubled its graduation rate, from 43 percent to more than 90 percent, while doubling enrollment. Other community-school initiatives under way in Texas include four in El Paso ISD, one in Dallas ISD, 11 in Austin ISD, and five more in Houston. And Texas AFT has secured a national grant to work on expansion of the model in Texas.
Here are five ways community schools consistently yield better results for their students:
- They improve attendance by providing coordinated supports for health, transportation, and housing needs.
- They increase learning time through effective behavioral strategies and reduced discipline referrals.
- They increase student engagement through effective tutoring, mentoring, and enrichment activities in and out of school.
- They increase family engagement through adult education, parent training, and community events.
- They support quality teaching by providing coordinated services and partnerships that allow teachers to concentrate on instruction, with fewer worries about nonacademic student needs.