City Connects: Redesigning Student Support for Academic Success
October 2016 / Education / Abell Reports
City Connects works with each teacher in the school to develop an individualized plan for each student based on his or her unique strengths and needs.
Students living in high-poverty areas face challenges outside of school that impede academic achievement. Excellent teachers and quality curricula are essential to improving achievement, but they are inadequate. Schools cannot close the achievement gap without a systemic approach to addressing the out-of-school factors that shape students’ performance in the classroom.
City Connects provides a systematic approach to student support that improves achievement.
First implemented in Boston fifteen years ago, City Connects is a student support strategy that works with each teacher in the school to develop an individualized plan for each student based on his or her unique strengths and needs. Drawing on the programs and resources at the school and in the community, City Connects matches students with the prevention, intervention and enrichment opportunities they need.
Research shows that students who attend a City Connects school between kindergarten and fifth grade see their academic trajectories change. For example:
Despite starting with lower report card scores in first grade, students in City Connects schools demonstrated significantly higher scores than those in comparison schools in reading, writing, and math by the end of fifth grade. The magnitude of these positive effects was as large as the negative effects of poverty.
After leaving the intervention and moving on to middle school, students from City Connects schools scored higher on statewide math and English language arts tests than comparison peers who were never enrolled in a City Connects school.
Students enrolled in City Connects elementary schools demonstrated lower rates of chronic absenteeism in middle and high school (defined as being absent from school 10 percent of days or more) than students in comparison schools.
Once they reached high school, students previously enrolled in a City Connects school from kindergarten through fifth grade dropped out of school at about half the rate of students enrolled in non-City Connects schools at the same time.
Now in 84 schools in nine different cities in five states, City Connects offers a proven, systematic approach to supporting students and teachers in schools.