Community Schools Positively Impact Student Outcomes
Growing evidence demonstrates that community schools, which offer social-emotional, health, family, and other supports to students and families, can have positive impacts on student outcomes. This report examines the effect of student and family use of out-of-school time, school-based health center, and family supports provided by the Elev8 Baltimore community schools initiative on middle school students’ attendance, grades, behavior and test scores.
What We Did
We used Elev8 participation and student outcomes data to compare the academic outcomes of students who attended Elev8 schools and used Elev8 supports to the outcomes of students at Elev8 schools who did not use those supports. Our methods of analysis allowed us to take into account both measured and unmeasured differences between the two groups. We also used data from Baltimore City Public Schools and the Maryland Department of Education to identify a sample of comparison schools that were as similar as possible to the Elev8 schools at the beginning of the implementation of Elev8. We used this sample to compare the outcomes of students who attended Elev8 schools to those of students in the comparison schools. Finally, we used public school data to construct a comparison sample of students who attended the Elev8 schools prior to the introduction of Elev8. We used this sample to compare the outcomes of students who attended the schools after the introduction of Elev8 to those of students who attended prior to the introduction of Elev8.
What We Found
Overall, we found consistent evidence of positive, though generally small, effects of participating in Elev8 activities and supports. Specifically, we found that within the Elev8 schools:
- Students who either only participated in out-of-school time programming, combined participation in this programming with use of the health center, or used all three Elev8 supports had average attendance rates that were higher than the average attendance rate of students who did not use any supports.
- Students who either only participated in out-of-school time programming, or who combined this participation with use of the school-based health center, had mean GPAs that were higher than the mean GPAs of students who did not use any supports.
- Students who only participated in out-of-school time programming had reading and math test scores that were 0.10–0.20 standard deviations higher than the scores of students who did not use any supports. The size of these effects compares favorably with those found in other studies of the effects of educational reforms on student achievement.
We found some evidence that students who attended the Elev8 schools after the implementation of Elev8 had test scores that were approximately 0.10 standard deviations higher than students who attended the Elev8 schools before the implementation of Elev8.
What It Means
Overall, these findings add to the growing evidence that community schools can have a positive impact on student outcomes, particularly among those who participate in out-of-school-time programming. Evidence suggests that the impact of initiatives such Elev8 would be increased if the programs were available to more students and to students at all grade levels. Also, since student mobility significantly impacts the extent to which students can benefit from supports, families most likely to move due to economic or other reasons should be targeted for services.Elev8 Baltimore Outcomes Study