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.

City Connects goes back to school

We’re excited about the start of the new school year.

City Connects’ coordinators are at work in their schools, laying a foundation to help students feel safe, supported, and understood.

In the coming weeks, coordinators will collaborate with teachers, staff, and families to create personalized plans for every student, connecting children to the right services at the right time.

Here’s a numerical snapshot of the 2017-2018 school year:

City Connects coordinators are working… Continue reading

Enjoy the final days of summer

We’ll be back next month.

Looking forward to the new school year

We’re looking forward to the new school year — and to all of our students’ success.

Three things we do during the summer…

… to get ready for the fall:

  1. We visit in person with current and potential community partners to talk about ways to improve and expand the resources that will be available for our students in the fall;
  1. We organize: our offices, our social skills curricula, our student support team plans, and our Welcome Back events;
  1. We hire and train new coordinators in the City Connects practice

So when school starts we’re ready to go.

City Connects has a powerful impact on reading

Students in City Connects schools tend to be stronger readers, according to a number of studies on City Connects’ impact that show similar, positive results. Here’s some of what the research has found:

• City Connects students receive better report card scores in reading

• Former City Connects students outperform peers from comparison schools on statewide tests in English Language Arts

English language learners (ELL) experienced significantly larger benefits than non-ELL students.

• Students who experienced an additional year of City Connects performed better on statewide reading tests than students who missed out on that year.

Immigrant students who experienced City Connects significantly outperformed immigrant students who never experienced the intervention on both reading achievement test scores.

• For Catholic school students who take the standardized Stanford 10 Achievement Test, the reading achievement growth rate over time was significantly higher for students in City Connects compared to their comparison school peers.

Learn more about City Connects’ students’ reading outcomes in our 2016 Progress Report.

Program managers’ annual meeting – a meeting of City Connects minds

At City Connects, our big-picture thinkers are our program managers. They make sure our model is faithfully implemented across all our partner schools.

Their job starts with supervising our coordinators. But our program managers – eight in five states — are also figuring out how to have both disciplined consistency and the savvy flexibility it takes to meet needs that differ from school to school and community to community.

“Program managers are the real linchpin between the practice and how it’s carried out in the schools,” Lynne Sullivan, City Connects’ Director of Implementation, says. Our eight program managers are a diverse group with broad perspectives: two are former principals, three are former City Connects coordinators, two have community school backgrounds, and one is a school social worker.

We knew that it would be crucial for program managers to talk to each other, so we Continue reading

Community Partners: City Connects and Big Brothers Big Sisters

To get the right services to the right child, City Connects relies on hundreds of community partners – from nonprofits and health centers to businesses and cultural organizations.

One of our longstanding community partners is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay.

Big Brothers provides mentors – or “Bigs” as the organization calls them – who serve as role models and friends for children (or “Littles”) in a one-on-one relationship.

The partnership between City Connects and Big Brothers strengthens this practice.

“We really work collaboratively,” Nora Leary explains. She’s Big Brothers’ Vice President for Program Services. “I think our goals are very similar: to help the kids in Boston Public Schools succeed, not just educationally, but also in all the other spheres of their life.” Continue reading