Program

May 07, 2014

OVERVIEW

Communities In Schools (CIS) is a dropout prevention initiative that partners with schools to identify needs of students and then connect them with community resources to address those needs (in the form of case management).  Three experimental evaluations of CIS have been conducted, across three separate locations; Jacksonville, FL, Austin, TX, and Wichita, KS.  In the Jacksonville study, no statistically significant impacts were found on GPA or math scores, grade promotion (despite a large effect), or behavioral outcomes.  A significant impact was found for reading scores, but the impact was not sustained beyond Year 1.  In the Austin study, significant impacts were found in Year 1 for attendance, GPA, and credit completion, but these impacts were not sustained in Year 2 or for the overall study period.  No significant impacts were found for behavioral outcomes, reading and math scores, and outcomes related to perceptions of school and self.  In the Wichita study, significant impacts were found for attendance and credit completion from Year 1 to Year 2, but not from baseline to Year 1, or overall.  Significant positive impacts were also found on math scores from Year 1 to Year 2, although there was a negative impact on math scores for Year 1.  However, a positive trend was found for Year 1 to Year 2, and Year 2 alone.  No significant impacts were found for GPA, reading scores, disciplinary referrals, or student attitudes.

The evaluations show promising results in regards to 1 year improvements in attendance and credit completion.  CIS program services largely resulted in no differences between treatment and control group outcomes on measures such as GPA, state test scores, student attitudes, referrals, or suspensions (with some mixed results for GPA and test scores).

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target Population: Middle and high school students

Communities In Schools (CIS) is a dropout prevention organization that connects community resources with schools to create an environment that encourages students to remain in school and make good choices.  CIS partners with local school systems to identify needs that are keeping children from having success in school and their lives.  Community resources, volunteers, and agencies to partner with local schools are then brought in by CIS, to assist in programming during the school day and after school.

There are 5 main principles that CIS uses as guides for what types of program components will be brought into each school system.  These include:

  1. One-on-one-relationship with a caring adult (may include mentoring, tutoring, and/or parental involvement groups)
  2. Safe place to learn and grow (includes after school and extended hours)
  3. Healthy start and a healthy future (may include mental health counseling, drug and alcohol education, eye care and immunizations, physical and dental exams, help for teen parents, and/or family strengthening initiatives)
  4. Marketable skill to use upon graduation (may include technology training, employment skills and career counseling, and/or college prep and scholarship opportunities)
  5. Chance to give back to peers and community (may include junior ROTC and/or community service opportunities)

The main principles are complemented by the CIS six component delivery system, which includes:

  1. Supportive guidance and counseling: character building, encouragement, behavior and anger management
  2. Health and human services: basic needs/public assistance, clothing, housing, health awareness, agency referrals, and fitness
  3. Parental and family involvement: parent conferences, letters to parents, and family counseling/supportive guidance
  4. Career awareness and employment: career counseling, clubs, and days, and job postings/employment listings
  5. Enrichment: after-school clubs, arts and crafts, board games, and cultural/gender/ethnic diversity activities
  6. Education: tutoring, academic skills, grades, homework clubs, and college awareness/prep

At each school, services are divided into Level 1 or Level 2.  Level 1 services are made available to all students (e.g., school climate activities, career and college awareness activities), while Level 2 services are targeted to at-risk students through case management, based on individual student needs.  As different school systems partner with CIS, they pull from a variety of the components and principles listed above to shape the actual resource delivery of their individual program.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

ICF International. (2010). Communities In Schools national evaluation volume 4: Randomized controlled trial study Jacksonville, Florida. Fairfax, VA: ICF International.

Evaluated population: A total of 332 6th grade students from two middle schools (grades 6-8) in Jacksonville, FL were recruited for this study.  Two cohorts of students were recruited for the study: one for incoming 6th graders in 2007-2008 and the other for incoming 6th graders in 2008-2009.  Both schools had primarily low-income, at-risk student populations with 100 percent of the evaluated participants eligible for free/reduced lunch.  Of the evaluated population, 78.6 percent were African American, and 55.7 percent were female.  There were no significant demographic differences between groups at baseline.

Approach:  Students were randomly assigned to either the treatment (N=164) or control (N=168) group.  For CIS Jacksonville, the primary focus of the evaluation was on their Student Enrichment Program (SEP) services that included placing student advocates on school campuses to help stabilize students at risk of dropping out.  Advocates connect students to community resources and also counsel students both individually and in groups on life skills.  Home visits and parental involvement are also key components of the program.  Students in the control group did not receive these SEP services.

To measure the effectiveness of the intervention, data were collected on academic outcomes (GPA, standardized testing in reading and math, and grade promotion), behavioral outcomes (disciplinary referrals, school attendance, numbers of suspensions), and student perceptions of attitudes and behaviors (self-worth, personal responsibility, school/community involvement, parental involvement/family relationships, self-reported negative behaviors, and future aspirations).  Data were collected at baseline (end of 5th grade) and throughout the program (using student records), but the primary analyses were for baseline to Year 1 (end of 6th grade), baseline to Year 2 (end of 7th grade), and Year 1 to Year 2.  For the analyses, the two cohorts of students were combined.

Results: At all time points (year 1, year 2, and year 1 to year 2), there were no statistically significant differences between groups on GPA or math scores.  At Year 1, a significant difference did exist on reading scores, but there were no differences found for Year 2 and Year 1 to Year 2.  For grade promotion from Year 1 to Year 2, there was a large effect for the treatment group, with 4 percent fewer students held back.  However, this difference was not statistically significant.

For behavioral outcomes, there were no significant differences between groups at any time points for referrals, attendance, or suspensions.

With regard to student perceptions, there was a statistically significant impact on personal responsibility scores at Year 1, but not Year 2 or Year 1 to Year 2.  There were no other significant differences between groups on these constructs.

ICF International. (2010). Communities In Schools national evaluation volume 5: Randomized controlled trial study Austin, Texas. Fairfax, VA: ICF International.

Evaluated population: A total of 151 incoming 9th grade students from six high schools in the Austin (Texas) Independent School District were evaluated.  Two cohorts of students were recruited for this study: one for incoming 9th graders in 2007-2008 and the other for incoming 9th graders in 2008-2009.  All schools included in the evaluation were low-performing, urban schools, with high numbers of at-risk and economically disadvantaged students.  Treatment and control group populations were comprised of 64.5 percent and 67.2 percent Hispanic students respectively, 26.9 percent and 20.7 percent African American respectively, and 49.5 percent and 65.5 percent female respectively.  There were no significant demographic differences between groups at baseline.

Approach:  Students were randomly assigned to either the treatment (N=93) or control (N=58) group.  For CIS of Texas, the core of the program and this evaluation was their case management program.  This program involves identifying individual student needs, developing a service plan to address those needs, and monitoring the student’s progress through interactions with the student, family, teachers, and service providers.  Students in the control group did not receive these case management services.

To measure the effectiveness of the evaluation, data were collected on school attendance, academic performance, credit completion, disciplinary referrals, state test scores, personal responsibility, self-worth, school/community involvement, parental involvement/family relationships, behavior, and future aspirations.  Data were collected at baseline (end of 8th grade) and throughout the program (using student records), but the primary analyses were for baseline to Year 1 (end of 9th grade), baseline to Year 2 (end of 10th grade), and Year 1 to Year 2.  For the analyses, the two cohorts of students were combined.

Results: From baseline to Year 1 there was a statistically significant difference between groups on attendance, with control students declining and treatment group students remaining stable.  However, there were no differences for Year 1 to Year 2 and baseline to Year 2.  Similarly, significant differences existed in GPA for baseline to Year 1 (treatment students’ GPA did not decline as rapidly as control students), but there were no differences on the other two comparisons.  The same pattern was again seen on credit completion, with treatment group students having significantly more credits than those in the control group at the end of Year 1, but no differences were found in the long-run.

No significant differences between groups were found for disciplinary referrals, state reading and math scores, personal responsibility, self-worth, school/community involvement, parental involvement/family relationships, behavioral measures, and future aspirations on any of the three analysis points.

ICF International. (2010). Communities In Schools national evaluation volume 6: Randomized controlled trial study Wichita, Kansas. Fairfax, VA: ICF International.

Evaluated population: A total of 90 incoming 10th grade students from one urban high school in Wichita, KS were evaluated.  Two cohorts of students were recruited for this study: one for incoming 10th graders in 2008-2009 and the other for incoming 10th graders in 2009-2010.  Treatment and control group populations were comprised of 44 percent and 47.5 percent Caucasian students respectively, 26 percent and 17.5 percent African American respectively, 16 percent and 17.5 percent Hispanic respectively.  In both samples, the majority of participants were eligible for free/reduced lunch (86.5 percent and 87.5 percent respectively) and female (60 percent and 62.5 percent respectively).  There were no significant demographic differences between groups at baseline.

Approach:  Students were randomly assigned to either the treatment (N=50) or control (N=40) group.  For CIS of Wichita, the core of the program and this evaluation was their case management program.  This program includes tutoring, mentoring, counseling, parental involvement, health services, community service, recreational/enrichment activities, and family learning programs.  Students in the control group did not receive these case management services.

To measure the effectiveness of the evaluation data were collected on school attendance, academic performance, credit completion, disciplinary referrals, state test scores, and attitudes towards personal responsibility, self-worth, school/community involvement, parental involvement/family relationships, behavioral measures, and future aspirations.  Data were collected at baseline (end of 9th grade) and throughout the program (using student records), but the primary analyses were for baseline to Year 1 (end of 10th grade), baseline to Year 2 (end of 11th grade), and Year 1 to Year 2.  For the analyses, the two cohorts of students were combined.

Results: There were no differences between groups on attendance for baseline to Year 1 and baseline to Year 2 (with a slight negative change in attendance for the treatment group in Year 1), but for Year 1 to Year 2 there was a statistically significant difference in favor of the treatment group.  Credit completion followed the same pattern.  On state test scores, there were no differences between groups on reading, but there was a statistically significant difference in favor of the treatment group on math scores from Year 1 to Year 2.  There was a negative impact on math scores for Year 1, but a positive trend for Year 1 to Year 2 and Year 2 alone.  There was a small negative impact on reading scores across all time periods.

No significant differences existed for GPA, disciplinary referrals, or any of the student survey attitude constructs.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Website: http://www.communitiesinschools.org/

References

ICF International. (2010). Communities In Schools national evaluation volume 4: Randomized controlled trial study Jacksonville, Florida. Fairfax, VA: ICF International.

ICF International. (2010). Communities In Schools national evaluation volume 5: Randomized controlled trial study Austin, Texas. Fairfax, VA: ICF International.

ICF International. (2010). Communities In Schools national evaluation volume 6: Randomized controlled trial study Wichita, Kansas. Fairfax, VA: ICF International.

KEYWORDS: Children, Adolescents, Middle School, High School, Males and Females (Co-Ed), High-Risk, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Urban, School-Based, Counseling/Therapy, Home Visitation, Parent or Family Component, Community or Media Campaign, Tutoring, Mentoring, Case Management, Attendance, Reading/Literacy, Mathematics, Academic Achievement/Grades, Academic Motivation/Self-Concept/Expectations/Engagement, High School Completion/Dropout

Program information last updated 5/7/14

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