A new policy brief on state action


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.

3 thoughts on “A new policy brief on state action”

  1. Those “conditions that help schools boost children’s learning, improve their long-term outcomes, and set examples that other states can follow” very often don’t include the arts which can play significant roles in all the areas you mention. If schools had a goal of supporting the development of children rather than keeping testing companies in business, they would be preparing those students for success in the adult world.

    1. Hi Vera,
      Thanks so much for your comment! City Connects believes in strengthening the whole child so that students are ready to grow and learn, and the arts are a part of the City Connects approach. By connecting each child to a tailored set of services and resources, each child is able to get the combination of supports and opportunities they need to be ready to learn and engage in school. For some children, arts can be a vital outlet for their creativity and for developing a sense of competence and confidence. For example, if a child loves to dance in gym, doodles in class, or is interested in music, a coordinator can help connect that student to arts programs and opportunities. We work with hundreds of community partners, including social services, after school programs, and arts programs. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our past blog article on City Connects’ enrichment programs, including dance, theater, music, and visual arts.

      1. Thanks for your detailed response. I want to start with instruction in the arts as part of the school curriculum. From there, those programs can be enhanced through community connections.

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