How to Improve School Attendance

A Practical Guide for Schools and School Districts
A Project of the Los Angeles County Education Coordinating Council


Module 4: School-Community Partnerships—3

Models for School-Community Partnerships

Community Schools

Across the country, organizations and schools are implementing a "community school" model to more effectively serve their students and families. Such a model appears in Module 4 Appendix A: Key Elements of a Community Schools Model. Its core principles include:

square bullet Shared vision and accountability

square bullet Strong partnerships

square bullet High expectations for all

square bullet Asset-based/community strengths approach

square bullet Respect for diversity of opinions/viewpoints

square bullet Local decision-making

The Coalition for Community Schools95, housed at the Institute for Educational Leadership, is an alliance of national, state, and local organizations in K–16 education, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services, government and philanthropy as well as national, state, and local community school networks. It defines a community school as "both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, services, supports and opportunities leads to improved students learning, stronger families, and healthier communities. Community Schools organize and leverage the resources of the community around student success."96

The work of community schools is driven by the following core beliefs:97

square bullet  Communities and schools are fundamentally and positively interconnected.

square bullet  Schools can make a difference in the lives of all children.

square bullet Children do better when their families do better.

square bullet The development of the whole child is a critical factor for student success.

square bullet Community schools initiatives blend funding streams and partnerships to build on existing
efforts.

❖  Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP) 

square bullet LAEP's community school model,98 being championed in high-need areas within the Los Angeles Unified School District, includes certain key features and strategies. 

✔ It is collaborative, seeking to integrate the local community into improving the school academic environment.

✔ It uses a site coordinator, a position essential to the implementation of a community school, who is located on-site to help drive the work and build/maintain school/community connections and relationships.

✔ All stakeholders are brought to the table and involved in the work.

✔ The model promotes data-driven change, using data as a key factor to identify and address needs, drive policy and program development, and track progress.

✔ Regular meetings of the resource council and its work groups are held with stakeholders serving the school.

✔ Parent engagement efforts include parent leaders, a promotora model of peer-topeer
learning and supports.

✔ Academic supports target under-performing ninth-grade students with after-school
programs and parent outreach.

✔ Developmental assets and resilience work are addressed to develop a common language
and a strengths-based approach.

✔ An upper-class youth mentor and orientation program for ninth-graders has been
developed.

square bullet Although the LAEP Community School model (Module 4 Appendix A) requires an onsite coordinator, the real focus of its work is using specific strategies to bring stakeholders together and identify needs and resources to serve the school community. If a school is not able to hire a dedicated on-site coordinator, existing school staff can try to serve in this role.

square bullet Edison Middle School has had a LAEP Community School Coordinator since the 2010– 2011 school year, and its successes include:

✔ Attendance rates above 95 percent in the 2010–2011 and 2011–2012 school years

✔ Zero out-of-school suspensions in 2011–2012 through the implementation of schoolwide positive behavior interventions and supports (see Module 2 page 32)

✔ A 90-point API increase from 2009–2010 to 2011–2012

✔ Monthly parent classroom observations to foster parent feedback and raise parent awareness

square bullet Other LAEP community schools are at San Fernando Middle School and Fremont High School.

 


95 http://www.communityschools.org/
96 http://www.communityschools.org/aboutschools/what_is_a_community_school.aspx
97 Community Schools Evaluation Toolkit: A starter guide for community school staff who want to use data to tell
their story and improve their community schools. 2009. Shital C. Shah, Coalititon for Community Schools at the
Institute for Educational Leadership; Katrina Brink, Rebecca London, Shelly Masur, and Gisell Quihuis at the John
W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University. Available at
www.communityschools.org/.../Evaluation_Toolkit_March2010.pdf.98
LAEP Community Schools

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