At Communities In Schools® (CIS®), we believe in the power of policy to drive real change for students, schools and communities. We are committed to advancing public policy discussions that ensure lawmakers prioritize and activate strategies, like integrated student supports, that give every student the opportunity to succeed and thrive in school and beyond.
Rethinking School Discipline
Missing class time for any reason has a negative impact on student achievement – and this includes time missed when a student is suspended or expelled from school. Research shows that these exclusionary discipline practices can also increase both the risk of dropping out and the likelihood of future involvement with the criminal justice system. Because of disparities in use of school discipline, these consequences disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities (1).
Communities In Schools advocates for a shift in our approach to school discipline that addresses the underlying issues that affect student behavior so teachers can focus on teaching. When students are empowered with the appropriate supports to address the multiple barriers they may face and are provided with the necessary social emotional skills to self-regulate behavior, the need for disciplinary referrals can be reduced. This also improves the overall climate of a school (2). Thanks to this approach, 83% of our case-managed students met their behavior goals last school year (3).
1 U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, 2014 Civil Rights Data Collection: Data Snapshot (School Discipline)
2 The Aspen Institute, National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development, Caring Communities: Linking School Culture and Student Development
3 Communities In Schools, 2020-21 Data Book
School Safety Policy Brief
Every young person needs and deserves a safe place to learn and grow. Our school-based coordinators bring the right community resources into schools to ensure that school environments are safe and inclusive of all students. Working with teachers and school leaders, Communities In Schools site coordinators implement key initiatives that improve school climate, resolve conflicts and prevent violence, and help students cope with trauma. In this policy brief, we’ve made recommendations to lawmakers about improving school climate.
Preparing Kids for College, Career, and Civic Engagement
Young people deserve to graduate from high school prepared to attend college, enlist in military service, or enter the workforce. Employers, college admissions counselors, and military recruiters want candidates who have the necessary technical skills, academic aptitude, and “soft skills” to be successful. Soft skills are taught through social emotional skill building, and they include problem solving, creativity, interpersonal communication, teamwork, collaboration.
But in the U.S., nearly half of all students graduate high school without a clear path forward, unprepared to attend college or enter a career (1). Too many of these young people simply did not have access to opportunities to build the knowledge and skills required to graduate college and career ready. Students need better information, tools, hard and soft skills, and support services if they are to be more prepared for life after high school.
1 The Education Trust, 2016 Meandering Toward Graduation: Transcript Outcomes of High School Graduates
SEL Research Brief
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is increasingly identified by the public, higher education professionals, and employers as an essential component of college and career readiness. This research brief provides an overview of SEL, describes the impact of SEL on student outcomes, and shares how Communities In Schools across the United States are leveraging SEL to help students graduate and live more fulfilling and healthy lives.
Reducing Chronic Absenteeism
Each year, more than 6.5 million students are likely to be absent from school often enough that it could have a significant impact on their academic performance. Chronic absenteeism, missing 10% or more school days per year, occurs at every grade level and in schools nationwide. The problem is particularly acute for students who face the most significant barriers, including students from low-income families, students of color, and students with disabilities (1).
The prevalence of chronic absenteeism is a national crisis, and disparities among student groups underscore the need to better support all students to attend school. For many students, lack of food, health care, school supplies, clean and undamaged clothing, and even shampoo and soap can have a profound impact on their ability to attend school.
Public-private partnerships with evidence-based providers, like Communities In Schools, can bring resources into schools to address barriers to learning, like attendance, and help create more opportunities for teachers and school leaders to focus on their core mission.
1 U.S. Department of Education, Chronic Absenteeism in the Nation’s Schools
Reducing Absenteeism Policy Brief
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states and local education leaders with the opportunity to reimagine the potential of our education system, address chronic absenteeism, and make bold changes to ensure that more young people are prepared for the workforce and on a path to success in life. The law provides the necessary flexibility for states and local education agencies to implement more comprehensive strategies that reflect and meet the needs of students and their communities to reduce chronic absenteeism.
In this policy brief, we’ve made policy recommendations to help state and local leaders take advantage of this opportunity.
Improving Attendance Research Brief
In this research brief, we discuss the importance of school attendance, reasons that students are often absent from school, and how commonly reported school data can mask chronic absenteeism. We also provide information on how to work with students, families, and schools to increase student attendance, and highlights some of the whole-school and individual student attendance-focused interventions implemented by CIS in schools across the country.
Investing in the Success of Our Students
Too often, schools lack the resources they need to provide students with the community of support that they need and deserve. And across the country, school leaders are facing urgent crises that keep young people from success, like school safety concerns and the effect of the opioid epidemic on students and families. Communities In Schools advocates for federal investments in the health, safety, and well-being of children. Thanks to the hard work of advocates across the country, funding for these critical programs was maintained or increased in the FY22 federal budget.
21st Century Community Learning Centers
21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grants support local school and community-based providers of afterschool and summer learning programs. This investment brings quality enrichment activities, like tutoring, STEM exploration and field trips, to more than 1.7 million children who attend resource-strapped schools in high-need communities that may not be able to provide these programs without this support.
Communities In Schools leverages 21st CCLC to provide afterschool and enrichment activities in schools nationwide, and many of the partners we collaborate with to align supports also rely on this funding.
2017 Communities In Schools and 21st Century Community Learning Centers: Supporting At-Risk Youth with Quality Enrichment
Corporation for National and Community Service
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a federal agency that helps millions of Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through volunteer service. CNCS works with local partners, like Communities In Schools, on a wide range of education and development projects, helping local communities tackle some of the most difficult challenges.
By enlisting millions of volunteers, these programs ensure the presence of caring adults in schools nationwide.
2017 Communities In Schools and National Service: Changing Lives through Relationships
Title IV, Part A: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants
Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grants provide flexibility for school districts to make investments in initiatives that reflect the needs of their students. This new block grant, created by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), will empower districts to make meaningful, strategic decisions about which schools have the greatest need or have been identified for improvement. Funds can be used by schools in three broad areas: 1) Providing students with a well-rounded education; 2) Supporting safe and healthy students; and 3) Supporting the effective use of technology.
Find out more about the Title IV-A Coalition.
Communities In Schools, Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants
Federal Grants Book
To help CIS affiliates navigate the federal funding landscape, the CIS National Office developed a Federal Grants Book to help identify and access federal resources. The Book includes descriptions of dozens of federal programs and grants, as well as how CIS affiliates can apply for those funds and the services and activities the funding can be used to support.
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