Scaling — and investing — in relationships that boost students’ success

The old recipe for school success was to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic.

But Julia Freeland Fisher has added a fourth ingredient: relationships.

To close opportunity gaps, Fisher, the Director of Education Research at the Clayton Christensen Institute, says schools have to close relationship gaps in families’ social networks. That’s the premise of her book, “Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations that Expand Students’ Networks.”

One barrier to accomplishing this work: people think it can’t be done.

In a recent article posted on 74 Million’s website, Fisher points to New York Times Columnist David Brooks, who wrote an op-ed earlier this year praising the work of “weavers,” people who “want to live in right relation with others and to serve the community good.” Continue reading

A new teacher writes about City Connects

Elizabeth McKernan

By the time Elizabeth McKernan graduated from Boston College in 2018, she had been a student teacher at Brighton High School, Milton High School, and Waltham High School.

In her senior year, she was already taking graduate school classes at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development and working on her master’s degree, and she was determined to have an impact on students.

“That’s always been my perspective on teaching: If I can make one student’s life a little bit better then I’m doing it right,” she says.

Last month, McKernan made her mark in educational policy with an opinion piece in CommonWealth magazine — “Customized student support can level the playing field” — that begins:

“As a new high school teacher, I paid attention when educators, mayors, and Patriots players gathered before the Joint Committee on Education last month to testify on behalf of high needs students in Massachusetts. Continue reading

Harvard’s Education Redesign Lab cites City Connects’ for developing plans that promote students’ personal success

For decades, schools have relied on a “one-size fits all paradigm” that fails to meet “the particular, complex, and varied needs of children and youth living in poverty.”

That’s an observation from a new report from the Education Redesign Lab at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. The report says schools should abandon this approach to poverty and instead devise personalized “success plans” that meet individual students’ needs.

One example of how to do this, the report notes, is City Connects.

The report,Success Plans: Promising Tools for Customizing Student Supports and Opportunities”, says that these plans will “capture in- and out-of-school strengths and needs of children and youth; connect to the infrastructure that can match them with tailored services and opportunities; and seamlessly coordinate education and community resources to increase access to equitable opportunities.” Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 4/8/19

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

Harvard’s Education Redesign Lab cites City Connects as a student support model that more districts could use.

A report finds that state funding for higher-poverty districts is largely inadequate.

A South Bend, Ind., school pilots a weekend meals program.

To read more, click on the following links. Continue reading

City Connects produces a solid return on investment

Thanks to years of research, we know that City Connects’ model of providing integrated student support helps improve students’ attendance, grades, and test scores.

And thanks to recent research we know that City Connects yields an impressive return on investment (ROI). As we’ve blogged, Henry Levin and A. Brooks Bowden, of the Columbia University Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education, did a benefit-cost analysis of City Connects, and found strikingly positive results. For every $1 invested in City Connects there’s a $3 ROI. This calculation includes the cost of City Connects and the cost of the services – such as food, clothing, health care, and afterschool programs – that children and families receive.

Released in 2015, this study, also found that comparing the cost of City Connects alone to the benefits it generates yields an $11 return on every $1 invested. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 3/4/19

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

A Maryland school uses research on learning to improve student schedules.

Pollution hurts student outcomes.

A report points to racial disparities in school funding.

To read more, click on the following links. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 1/28/19

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

School climate can have a positive impact on early learning.

How states measure student growth under ESSA.

Massachusetts has a new charter school experiment.

Positive psychology improves students’ success.

To read more, click on the following links. Continue reading

City Connects and Catie’s Closet: working with a community partner that’s just down the hall

Last school year, Lincoln Elementary School in Springfield, Mass., had a custodian’s closet that was nothing special.

This year that space has been transformed – painted, carpeted and decorated – and turned into Catie’s Closet, a cheerful place where students can get donated clothes and toiletries.

It’s a powerful example of a City Connects’ community partner that places its resources inside schools where students have easy access.

Now, when a student at Lincoln needs clothes, City Connects Coordinator Allison Emhoff can go into the closet and get winter coats, sweaters, pajamas, backpacks, or the school uniforms that students at Lincoln wear. The closet doesn’t have shoes, but Emhoff can put in a special request for them. Students can also get personal products like deodorant or toothpaste. And it’s all convenient because the closet is just down the hall. Continue reading