This summer, we shared City Connects’ story at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a gathering of elected officials and their staff members. As we explained at the conference, City Connects work shows that students can achieve in school when the obstacles that they face outside school are addressed.
We explain how in a new policy brief for state lawmakers.
The brief — “Improving Student Achievement by Meeting Children’s Comprehensive Needs: State Policy Options” — explains:
“State policymakers can support children’s healthy development and learning, narrow achievement gaps, reduce dropout rates, and make it possible for communities to more efficiently use existing resources…”
Several states are taking steps in the right direction. In 2013, New Mexico passed legislation that lays out a plan for connecting school children to community resources.
To keep its schools informed about funding options, Maryland passed a law in 2016 that requires the Department of Education to notify districts about federal Title I funds that can be used for, as the brief notes, “the coordination of school and community resources.”
And here in Massachusetts, the FY 2018 budget appropriations call for the Safe and Supportive Schools Commission to incorporate “‘principles of effective practice for integrating student supports’ into its tools for districts,” the brief says.
States are also using other strategies such as removing barriers to resource integration for students — and building infrastructure at the state level to create efficiencies and support effective practices.
Drawing on research about City Connects, the brief explains:
“Evidence demonstrates that integrated approaches to student support, when implemented with adherence to principles of effective practice, can significantly narrow achievement gaps and improve dropout rates for the growing numbers of students living in disadvantaged circumstances.”
These kinds of state actions can create conditions that help schools boost children’s learning, improve their long-term outcomes, and set examples that other states can follow.