June 5, 2017

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Barbara McKenna, (831) 588-4309, bmckenna@learningpolicyinstitute.org
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Community schools are strongly supported by research evidence, as required by ESSA

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Jun. 5, 2017) – A new policy brief, co-produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) and the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), explores the research on community schools. Community schools represent a partnership and school improvement strategy to integrate resources provided by community agencies and local government for improved student learning, stronger families, and healthier communities.

Common pillars of community schools include: (1) integrated student supports; (2) expanded learning time and opportunities; (3) family and community engagement; and (4) collaborative leadership and practices.

The brief, Community Schools: An Evidence-Based Strategy for Equitable School Improvement, authored by Jeanie Oakes, Anna Maier, and Julia Daniel, investigated whether well-designed community schools could be harnessed under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to meet the needs of low-achieving students in high-poverty schools. The brief also provides support to school, district, and state leaders as they consider, propose, or implement a community school intervention.

Community Schools was made possible in part by support provided to NEPC by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. The research underlying the brief was supported in part by grants to LPI from the Ford Foundation and the Sandler Foundation. The policy brief draws from a larger research brief from LPI of 125 peer-reviewed studies, program evaluations, and published research reviews.

The authors found that community schools are strongly supported by research, and can be a particularly important strategy for transforming high-poverty schools. Moreover, the authors say: "Sufficient evidence meeting ESSA's criteria for 'evidence-based' approaches exists to justify including community schools as part of targeted and comprehensive interventions in high-poverty schools." Broader use of the approach is recommended.

Other considerations for future work include:

  • Taking a comprehensive approach;
  • Recognizing that successful community schools do not all look alike;
  • Collaboration between schools, service providers, parents, and staff is key;
  • Local community members, parents, and young people need to be part of a needs assessment, design, planning, and implementation process;
  • Evaluation strategies need to provide useful information about implementation and exposure to services; and
  • Data should be used for continuous improvement.

The authors also encouraged further research on community schools for a stronger understanding of their effectiveness. They note that more information is needed on the conditions needed for these efforts to work.

Find this brief on the web:

You can also find the brief on the NEPC website:

The Learning Policy Institute's website is:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/