Community Partners Health & Wellness Breakfast: Video Posted

Over on our YouTube channel, we’ve posted video of the speakers’ presentations from our May 11 community breakfast, where the topic was “Creating Dynamic School Partnerships to Increase Health & Wellness of Students.” The 5 videos include:

  • Dr. Mary Walsh, executive director of City Connects, discussing  the critical roles health and fitness play in student success, as well as City Connects data about health and wellness services students receive.
  • Dr. Linda Grant, medical director, Boston Public Schools,  discussing prevention, intervention, and management strategies that schools can and are using to support children.
  • Jill Carter, executive director of health & wellness, Boston Public Schools, discussing initiatives in her department to support health and wellness across all schools in the district.
  • Simon Ho, principal, Josiah Quincy Elementary School, discussing how he implements a comprehensive and coordinated health and wellness program for students at the Quincy.
  • Patrice DiNatale, director of new practice at City Connects, discussing how City Connects integrates health as a core component of student support.

City Connects in Education Week’s ‘Futures of School Reform’ blog

As we wrote about earlier this week, Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville has been writing this week about the importance of addressing non-school factors in education reform. Today, he authored a blog post, “Bolder, Broader Action: Strategies for Closing the Poverty Gap,” that mentions City Connects as a successful strategy for addressing out-of-school factors. As Secretary Reville wrote:

“… the challenge now is to translate our analysis into action by implementing a series of strategies, coupled with measurable outcomes, to ensure success.”

We feel strongly about evidence informing our practice and have conducted rigorous evaluation of our work. Learn more about City Connects’ positive impact on:

Out-of-School Factors In the News

Central to our philosophy at City Connects is that the out-of-school factors affecting students have a great impact on their ability to learn and thrive in school. (You can read about how we address out-of-school factors for children here.)

Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute has written beautifully on the subject, most recently in an issue brief, “How to Fix our Schools.” In the brief, Rothstein reiterates research that demonstrates only one-third of the achievement gap in schools is due to quality of instruction.

“Decades of social science research have demonstrated that differences in the quality of schools can explain about one-third of the variation in student achievement. But the other two-thirds is attributable to non-school factors,” he wrote.

Two great articles published recently advocated for addressing out-of-school factors. Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville and Jeffrey R. Henig, professor of political science and education at Columbia University, jointly authored a commentary, “Why Attention Will Return to Non-School Factors,” in Education Week. Reville and Henig wrote:

“Our vision of the future of education reform is simple: American schools won’t achieve their goal of ‘all students at proficiency’ unless they attend to nonschool factors.”

They propose a multi-tiered solution comprising data that links student outcomes to services, quantifiable indicators of success that are measured long-term, and benchmarks that can provide feedback on student progress. Reville wrote an accompanying blog post, “Closing the Poverty Gap: The Way Forward for Education Reform,” about the relationship between poverty and student achievement in Massachusetts.

In the New York Times, Lisa Belkin considers attempts to increase parental engagement in schools in her article, “Whose Failing Grade Is It?“. Belkin introduces several pieces of state legislation aimed at mandating parents’ involvement in their children’s schools as a means to improve student performance. Belkin quotes Diane Ravitch, an education historian, who argues that parent education should be targeted to parents when their children are born up to age five. Ravitch goes on to say:

“…We need to acknowledge that the root problem is poverty.”

These two pieces call attention to the impact out-of-school factors can have on children–something we believe in strongly at City Connects. Our systematic approach to supporting students strengths and needs has proven effective; you can read about our results here.

Community Partner Breakfast: A Focus on Health & Wellness

Today, City Connects hosted our annual spring gathering of community partners. The meeting, “Creating Dynamic School Partnerships to Increase the Health and Wellness of Students,” featured a panel discussion with (pictured left to right) Dr. Linda Grant, medical director of Boston Public Schools (BPS); Jill Carter, executive director, Health and Wellness at BPS; Simon Ho, principal of the Josiah Quincy School; and Pat DiNatale, director of new practice for City Connects.

Panelists discussed the need to coordinate services and fully integrate health into education to better serve students holistically. Dr. Grant emphasized the crucial role school nurses play in supporting the health of individual students while simultaneously developing knowledge of school-wide health concerns. Jill Carter gave insight into the efforts of the newly formed BPS Office of Health and Wellness and suggested that community partners establish relationships with “Wellness Champions” in the schools they serve. Simon Ho shared the steps his school took to promote student health and wellness that resulted in a Bronze Award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Pat DiNatale discussed the New Balance Foundation Health and Wellness curriculum piloted this year by City Connects and gave thanks to all of the partners with whom City Connects works to promote healthy development of students.

City Connects believes that health is a crucial component to student support–click here to learn more about our philosophy.

City Connects in District Administration Magazine

District AdministrationThe City Connects approach to student support was written up this week in District Administration magazine. From the article:

Boston Public Schools is seeing the results of City Connects—an intervention, prevention and enrichment program that, for a decade, has worked with teachers to pair students with community-based services to help students better engage and thrive in school.

Read the full article here!

For more information:

  • Follow District Administration magazine on Twitter @DA_magazine

City Connects 2010 Annual Report Published

City Connects Annual Report 2010

We are happy to announce the publication of our 2010 Annual Report, The Impact of City Connects. Again this year, our report presents strong evidence of the positive effects of City Connects for students and their families, for teachers and staff who work in our schools, and for our community partners.

Among the findings this year:

  • Improved Academic Outcomes: Our evaluation confirms again the significant benefits of City Connects for academic outcomes as measured both by report card scores and by  MCAS scores extending into middle school, after students have left City Connects. A cutting-edge approach to statistical analysis is detailed in the report.
  • Decreased Retention: City Connects students experience lower rates of retention in grade than those in comparison schools.
  • Satisfied Principals: 100% of principals surveyed reported satisfaction with City Connects as a whole, and 100% would recommend City Connects to a principal in another school.
  • Satisfied Teachers: 97% of teachers would recommend City Connects to a teacher in another school. In open-ended survey responses, teachers told us that the increased knowledge of students’ non-academic lives that they gain through City Connects allows them to tailor instruction and employ new strategies to engage students in learning.
  • Satisfied Partners: Community agencies continue to report high levels of satisfaction with partnership quality and effectiveness with City Connects schools; for example, 95% are satisfied with their primary contact at City Connects schools (vs. 67% at non-City Connects schools).

We are grateful to all of our school district and community partners for their commitment to addressing the out-of-school factors that impact students’ lives. The report is evidence of the success of our collaboration.

City Connects Joins Opportunity Nation Coalition

City Connects is proud to announce that we’ve signed on to join the OpportunityNation coalition! OpportunityNation is a national coalition of business leaders, nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, and grassroots organizations working to advance a nonpartisan/bipartisan agenda to enhance opportunity and economic mobility in America. Right now, the coalition comprises more than 80 organizations; see the list of everyone here. We look forward to participating in the dialogue and being a champion for the role of education in opportunity.

For more information:

ReadBoston & Farragut Elementary Celebrate African-American Heroes

Our last blog post described Sacha Pfeiffer’s interview on WBUR with Rick Weissbourd, the founder of ReadBoston. This literacy initiative has offered exciting opportunities to students at one City Connects school, Farragut Elementary, located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston.

Today, students at the Farragut will take part in a “Celebration of African-American Heroes.” Guest speakers from Boston hospitals will read stories to students, who are encouraged to come to school dressed as a famous African-American leader. As part of the event, students will choose a book to keep and to read at home over the school vacation.

In another event earlier this year, author Irene Smalls came to the school to read to students. Students also got to hear Boston Celtics players read at a third event through the NBA Read to Achieve program, partly sponsored by ReadBoston. The Farragut school applied to ReadBoston for a grant to help fund these activities.

“This has been a great opportunity for kids to take part in fun events that generate excitement about reading,” said Georgia Butler, the City Connects School Site Coordinator at the Farragut. “We’re glad to have this excellent partnership.”

For more information:

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