A new report on the importance of seeing, hearing, and understanding every child

As the country continues to move through the pandemic, it needs proven strategies to help its students. To show how this can be done, the Education Redesign Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education has released a new report that features a number of student support programs including City Connects.

The report – “Seizing the Moment for Transformative Change: A Framework for Personalized Student Success Planning” – notes:

“Even before the pandemic, it was clear that a one-size-fits-all approach to education and child development is not a successful strategy.”

During the pandemic, children have had a vast range of experiences, “ranging from those who have had every possible support and opportunity to aid them in keeping pace with their studies to those who have been off the grid altogether, totally disconnected from their teachers and schooling.

Now, the country has to educate this diverse population of students, and the only way to do so is through “personalization.” 

“Every child needs to be seen, heard, understood, and responded to as an individual,” the report says. “Every child needs an advocate in the school system, a navigator who knows the child and their family and sees to it that the child’s needs are addressed by the system. No child should be anonymous any longer. Relationships matter.”

That’s why programs like City Connects matter. Our model shows that schools can see, hear, understand, and respond to every one of their students.

As the report notes, City Connects’ coordinators, who review every student’s needs and strengths, as well as City Connects’ extensive use of data, both combine to create a program that “improves multiple student outcomes. The model is associated with higher academic achievement and attendance as well as lower retention, chronic absenteeism, and high school dropout rates. Additionally, recent research indicates that City Connects helps maintain the positive impact of preschool and increases the likelihood of postsecondary enrollment and attainment.”

One example that the report points to is Tennessee’s Hamilton County Schools (HCS) system.

“In 2019, the district partnered with the national student support organization City Connects… and began to implement its model.”

“During HCS’s partnership with City Connects, it utilized the City Connects proprietary platform, which captures academic, social-emotional learning, health, and family-related data.” 

Nationally, there is much more work to do. As the report concludes:

“More than ever, children need to be known and supported as individuals with unique needs and strengths.”

“We have an opportunity, and an obligation, to seize this moment to create transformational changes in the way we educate and support children. We know that a one-size-fits-all strategy does not work, and we have a roadmap to a new design that identifies each child’s strengths and needs and creates a comprehensive plan to meet those needs.”

Here at City Connects, we are proud to be an example of how to do this vital work.

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