Around the Institute

City Connects: A Systemic Approach to Student Support

January 19, 2011  • Education Innovation Forum and Expo

City Connects is an evidence-based, cost-effective, and scalable approach to school-based student support that partners with community agencies to promote the strengths and meet the needs of students in urban elementary schools. Schools cannot close the achievement gap without a systemic approach to addressing the out-of-school factors that impact learning. The mission of City Connects is to help children succeed – promoting their academic, social-emotional, and physical well-being by connecting them with a tailored set of prevention, intervention, and enrichment services.

At the core of the intervention is a full-time School Site Coordinator (SSC) in each school who connects students to services. The SSC collaborates with teachers, school staff, families, and community agencies to develop a customized support plan for each and every student in a school. A Practice Manual and fidelity tools ensure standardization across sites. A proprietary Web-based system allows secure data collection on student reviews and services.

Longitudinal evaluation has demonstrated that City Connects students achieve higher report card scores in reading, writing, and math, and on other important outcomes contributing to academic success: behavior, effort, and work habits. The impact on literacy measures is particularly large for English Language Learners. Positive effects persist after students leave City Connects: they outperform their Boston peers in middle school and achieve close to state proficiency levels on both English and math on the Massachusetts statewide test. City Connects students have significantly lower rates of retention than comparison students, a strong predictor of on-time high school graduation.

To learn more, contact Leah Lindsay.