In the fall, when City Connects site coordinators sit down with teachers to do a whole class review of each child in the teacher’s class, they group students into “tiers” of risk.
Each tier defines a child’s mix of strengths and risks across all developmental domains, from the child’s academic and social-emotional traits to their physical well-being and family life. The tiers:
In City Connects’ tier system, a child who is “getting by” in school but is socially withdrawn or acting out will still get the attention they need for their social-emotional problem.
Many public schools use similar tier assessments, but because they focus on academics they can miss challenges in the rest of students’ lives.
While almost every student in a City Connects’ school receives individualized services, students in Tier 3, who have the highest need and are often caught in crises, receive the most services, an average of 7. Each school year, 11 or 12 percent of students are placed in this tier.
Despite their challenges, however, children in Tier 3 are making substantial progress.
Each spring, when site coordinators and teachers sit down to review students again, they reassess each child’s tier. And when researchers looked at the results across City Connects’ schools, they found that 47 percent of Tier 3 students moved to a lower risk tier over the course of the 2014-15 school year.
This means that over the course of a school year, students who were experiencing severe crises and barriers exited this zone thanks to the services and opportunities that they were linked to through City Connects. And that means they could spend more time learning and growing and preparing for promising futures.