Research at City Connects: 4 Things We Know; 4 Things We’d Like to Know

City Connects

Research is a crucial piece of what we do.

The City Connects evaluation team operates independently, analyzing data from City Connects programs and producing peer-reviewed studies.

So there’s a lot we know about boosting students’ success — and there’s more that we want to know.

Here’s a quick rundown:

Four things we know:

  1. Up to two-thirds of academic achievement is related to nonacademic factors.
    Growing up in challenging circumstances is one of the biggest factors that can erode students’ success.
  2. City Connects has a positive impact on students’ academic achievement.
    Students, for example, do much better in math and English on the statewide exam in Massachusetts.
  3. City Connects has a positive impact on students’ attendance.
    Students at City Connects schools attend significantly more days of school — both when they are in City Connects schools and long after they leave.
  4. City Connects lowers high school dropout rates.
    Years after they’ve left City Connects schools, students are less likely to drop out of high school.

Four things we want to know more about:

  1. How does City Connects lead to positive outcomes, especially over the long term?
    We can see the good outcomes, but we’d like to know more about what produces them and why they stick.
  2. How does City Connects affect students’ social and emotional learning?
    Teachers report that students are improving on these skills, and we’d like to better understand this.
  3. How does City Connects affect school climate?
    From the individual experiences of students to how groups of students, teachers, and parents function, school climate has been found to affect student achievement. We want to understand how City Connects contributes to this.
  4. Do we see the same positive impacts on students at every City Connects site?
    Where we’ve looked, we’ve seen those outcomes replicated, but we want to continue to study both implementation and outcomes in communities across the country.

Research projects are underway, so we’ll report back as we learn more.

6 thoughts on “Research at City Connects: 4 Things We Know; 4 Things We’d Like to Know”

  1. City Connects needs to realize that an education that includes the arts for EVERY child is critical for success in school and in adult life. THIS is the critical link!!!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment! City Connects is founded on a “whole child” approach so that every student is ready to engage and learn in school. As part of that commitment, City Connects coordinators will help bring in outside arts programs to schools that want additional arts opportunities for their students, and coordinators connect students to a wide range of arts programs beyond the school day.

      One way of building on a child’s strengths is to cultivate talent, self expression, and self-confidence. If a teacher notices a student likes to draw, we may connect that student to an after school arts program; if a teacher or family member says their student loves music, we might connect them to an opportunity to learn an instrument; if a student is struggling with deep emotions, arts therapy could be a fit; if a student is identified with special needs, we might seek out an arts class able to accommodate a range of learning styles. One mom of a student with autism told us a weekend painting class for students on the spectrum had changed his life. By looking at the “whole child” City Connects is able to tailor opportunities to each child’s needs and interests. Arts are one important part of City Connects’ comprehensive approach to child development and student support.

  2. Hey! Who/what journals review your work? I’m interested to know what constitutes “peer-reviewed” in this case!



    1. Hi Sebastian: Thanks for your question! Studies of City Connects’ impacts have been published in a number of leading peer-reviewed journals including: The American Educational Research Journal, Child Development, and Teaching and Teacher Education. In addition, City Connects research is guided and reviewed by faculty at the Boston College Lynch School of Education and a panel of External Reviewers from various institutions listed on pp.42-43 of

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