City Connects releases its 2018 Progress Report

We’re excited to announce the release of our 2018 progress report — “City Connects: Intervention and Impact” — an in-depth look at our work and its outcomes.

As we expand into more schools, we continue to see growing benefits for children, the schools themselves, and their larger communities.

At the heart of our work is helping students navigate the challenges of poverty. As the report explains:

“The impact of poverty outside of school contributes to inequality in educational outcomes,” indeed, researchers have found that poverty is “the single most critical factor to address in education reform.”

Schools can’t do this work alone. They need “a systemic approach to addressing out-of-school disadvantage,” and that’s what City Connects provides. Every City Connects school has a coordinator who conducts whole class reviews and builds trust and relationships. Coordinators then draw on these data and the relationships to connect all of their schools’ students to a customized set of support services and enrichment programs that are provided by both schools and a range of community partners, from YMCAs to colleges.

The results?

“Beginning in elementary school, and after leaving City Connects and moving on to middle schools, City Connects students outperform comparison peers on measures of academic achievement,” the progress report notes. Specific student achievements include:

“By third grade, ELL students in City Connects schools demonstrated similar reading report card scores to those proficient in English in comparison schools, thereby eliminating the achievement gap in reading between ELL and non-ELL students…” and,

“Once they reached high school, students previously enrolled in a City Connects school from kindergarten through grade 5 dropped out of school at about half the rate of students enrolled in non-City Connects schools at the same time…”

The impact on schools is substantial. Research shows that these positive outcomes occur across both the public and Catholic schools where City Connects is implemented.

A survey of principals found that:

“Across all districts, 92% of principals reported satisfaction with City Connects, and 94% would recommend City Connects to another principal. Three quarters (75%) report having more time for their core work, and 94% reported that student support had improved in their schools as a result of City Connects.”

In addition:

“Principals reported that Coordinators communicating with and supporting families was a particular area of strength for the intervention: 87% of principals report that the Coordinator plays an important role engaging families, and 91% report being satisfied with the supports that the Coordinator provides for families.”

Teachers have also pointed out City Connects’ advantages.

“Teachers who participated in the Whole Class Review process report that knowing more about the non-academic aspects of their students’ lives influences their teaching practice. 90% or more of teachers reported that they:

  • Provided more differentiated instruction to meet the various learning styles of their students (e.g., small group work, visuals, and movement);
  • Are patient with their students because they better understand the non-academic issues that contribute to their struggles in the classroom; and
  • Thought about the factors influencing student behavior before reacting to the behavior.”

“Teachers also reported on the helpfulness of City Connects in addressing other issues. For example, 83% of teachers reported that City Connects helps them to follow through in securing non-academic supports for their students.”

And, “More than three quarters of teachers agreed that City Connects helped them to address student behavior, to ensure students came to class prepared to learn, and to help them connect with students’ families. 73 percent of teachers reported that City Connects helped make their classrooms more conducive to learning, and more than half of teachers agreed that City Connects helps them increase the amount of time available to prepare for instruction.”

Last year, we also conducted a survey of the community partners who provide services from counseling to health care to summer camp.

We found that “96% of community partners reported overall satisfaction with City Connects and felt that City Connects was effective at identifying the needs of the students they work with…”

A Boston-area community partners noted that, “City Connects is very helpful in identifying students that may benefit from our services, recommending our services to teachers, and helping to coordinate across a grade level or whole school which students should be matched with our services.”

Community partners also said that City Connects helps them communicate with families and follow-up on students.

As the report concludes, “City Connects is an approach to providing supports to students that align with effective practices emerging from the developmental sciences.”

“The City Connects intervention is feasible because the intervention model supports both comprehensiveness and efficiency.” And, “The research on City Connects demonstrates that paying attention to the individual strengths and needs of every student makes a difference.”

This work is essential because all children have a better chance to learn and thrive when we pay careful attention to their unique strengths, needs, and interests.

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