Learning About ESSA — and the Whole Child

Shaw Elementary School

Children aren’t the only ones who have a lot to learn about school.

According to an analysis done by Education Week, elected officials and state education leaders also have lessons to learn.

“At a pivotal time for state education policy, half the nation’s state legislatures have at least one new education committee chairperson this year, and a quarter of state schools chiefs are less than a year into the job, according to an Education Week analysis,” the magazine explains in its article, “Steep Learning Curve on K-12 as State Leaders Take New Seats.”

The article adds:

“This year’s large freshman class of key education policymakers has advocates and district leaders on edge as state leaders scramble to finalize the accountability plans due by next fall under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).”

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The 4 Cs of City Connects


City Connects builds on the developmental sciences, and it has been shaped through a two-year planning process that included  educators, community agencies, and families.

That’s why our  supports for students are:  


 To fit the unique strengths, needs, and interests of each student.

“The most important benefit of City Connects is how patiently they listen to student’s concerns, and bring back very good workable solutions/resources to help the student.”

        – A teacher in a City Connects School


Meeting academic, social/emotional, health, and family needs.

“Mark Griffin starts every weekday standing at the door of the Thomas Edison K8 School in Brighton: “Great hat!” “Don’t you look good today!” “How’re you making out?”

“His pleasantries are a nice way to start the day, but they also have a point. As Griffin greets more than 400 students each morning, he’s looking to see who is shivering in a too-thin coat, whose eyes look rimmed with tears, which parents are walking their kids to school and staying for the free breakfast themselves.

“‘It’s hard to concentrate on schoolwork when there are other things much more important to them that need to be addressed,’” Griffin said.”

The Boston Globe

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The View from Room 205 – Chicago Public Media Looks at Poverty in an Elementary School

Image courtesy of Chicago Public Media

Can schools make the American dream real for poor kids?

That’s the question Chicago Public Media asks in its multimedia story, “The View From Room 205.”

“The little kids I’m going to tell you about are fourth graders,” reporter Linda Lutton says in the audio section. “They go to William Penn Elementary on Chicago’s West Side.”

On the first day of school, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, head of Chicago Public Schools at the time, tells the students, “There’s no dream you can’t achieve, if you stay focused and persistent.”

It’s this phrase, “focused and persistent,” that the story confronts by asking whether children and public schools can overcome the challenges of poverty on their own.

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City Connects: A Promising Return on Investment


Shaw Elementary SchoolFor years, economists have used the term “return on investment,” or ROI, to describe business profits. Invest, for example, $100, then earn $200, and that’s a return of $2 for every dollar invested.

Now, increasingly, economists are applying ROI to public investments. Take Henry Levin, a professor of Economics and Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Levin has done a benefit-cost analysis of City Connects, and found strikingly positive results.
Levin’s approach is called “the ingredients method,” and it “calculates how much money any intervention saves society by generating more taxable income, reducing the burden on the health care and public assistance and criminal justice systems, and creating more engaged citizens.”

What’s City Connects’ return on investment?  Continue reading

By the Numbers: City Connects’ Impact on Immigrant Children

Mendell Elementary School

Professor Eric Dearing conducted research that looked at how immigrant children do in City Connects schools. Dearing is a professor in the department of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology in Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. He’s also a faculty adviser to the City Connects Evaluation Team.

“Poverty affects not only the amount and quality of learning support a child receives, but also the likelihood of experiencing stress, chaos, and violence,” Dearing explained last year in the journal Child Development. “For immigrant children, these risks may be aggravated by language barriers, documentation status, and discrimination.”

Click here for the press release. And click here for an abstract of the study.

Here’s a look at the study by the numbers: Continue reading

The Clayton Christensen Institute Highlights Education Trends

City Connects Saint John Paul II: Columbia Campus

What will educational innovation look like in 2017?

In a recent blog post, the Clayton Christensen Institute – “a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to improving the world through disruptive innovation” — shares its insights on key trends.

One trend: “Wraparound services will get a boost—hopefully for the sake of learning.”

“New metrics, like school climate or social and emotional progress, are likely to generate demand for interventions that attend to nonacademic factors of students’ experiences.” Continue reading

Students’ Progress Through Tiers of Risk


In the fall, when City Connects site coordinators sit down with teachers to do a whole class review of each child in the teacher’s class, they group students into “tiers” of risk.

Each tier defines a child’s mix of strengths and risks across all developmental domains, from the child’s academic and social-emotional traits to their physical well-being and family life. The tiers:



In City Connects’ tier system, a child who is “getting by” in school but is socially withdrawn or acting out will still get the attention they need for their social-emotional problem.  Continue reading

Happy Holidays

20160206_091752The blog will be back in January. Enjoy the new year!