In recent decades, the community schools model integrating academics with additional supports from community-based organizations has grown in popularity as a means to address students’ needs inside and outside the classroom.
Lauren Covelli from Vanderbilt University and John Engberg and Isaac Opper from RAND Corporation examined the impact of these schools on elementary and middle school students’ attendance and academic achievement in a new working paper from the Annenberg Institute.
Using data from the 2015-16 to 2018-19 school years in the largest community school program in the country, New York City Community Schools Initiative, the researchers found significant positive impacts of community schools on both student attendance and academic achievement. Specifically, the initiative led to an immediate reduction in chronic absenteeism of 5.6 percentage points, which persisted over the next three years, as well as 1 to 2 percentage point increases in overall attendance rates across all four years.
The initiative also boosted students’ test scores, with significant increases for math and English language arts test scores respectively, by the third year after implementation.
This study provides promising evidence of the impact of community schools and informs paths for future research on their efficacy.