"They're working with a lot of schools, and there's clearly variation in implementation, but the results are certainly promising and worthy of more study.It suggests there's probably something going on in these City Year schools." Schools with a higher number of corps members per 100 students were the most likely to show improvement, as were schools with a higher number of students on "focus" lists of more intensive intervention in math or reading.
I., marked for an overhaul in 2012, but three years later, it is not only out of academic crisis, but thriving. Field credits a big part of the school's revival to a team of young adult Ameri Corps members who have adopted the school as part of the City Year program's "Whole School, Whole Child" school wide initiative. "One of the best things we ever did was write them into our school improvement plan." Some new evidence released this morning suggests Fields isn't alone: Schools that participated in City Year's 150 school wide programs in 22 cities were more likely to see overall improvements on their states' mathematics and English/language arts tests than similar schools that did not participate, according to a new evaluation of schools in the nonprofit program's 150 schools.
The group's school wide program uses teams of seven to 18 corps members who support teachers, as well as provide reading and math tutoring, attendance and behavior coaching, social-emotional activities, and after school homework help, and enrichment.
Corps members serve in more than a quarter of schools eligible for federal school improvement grants.
Schools working with the program were about twice as likely as comparison schools to show overall improvements in language arts in each of the three study years: 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14.
In mathematics, City Year schools were also significantly more likely to show improvement than comparison schools in two of the three study years: Because the schools were in different states, using different tests, the researchers calculated improvement simply by determining whether the percentage of students proficient on the state tests was higher in one year in than the previous year.
"What was surprising was the findings were consistent across all the sites," said Leslie M.
Anderson, report co-author and the managing director of Policy Studies Associates, Inc.
The study, by the Washington-based research firm Policy Studies Associates, Inc., compared state test performance of schools which received services from City Year in a whole-school program, with local comparison schools matched on demographics and other factors.
The researchers used surveys and administrative and testing data to track the performance of students overall in grades 3 through 8 and high school in math and language arts, as well as high school graduation, in 150 City Year schools and nearly 500 matched comparison schools.
They also tracked how many students in the City Year schools were identified for "focus" support in math, reading, or social- emotional or behavior issues.
School practices—data reviews, shared teacher-planning time, appreciation and reward activities, community-partnership development, tutoring frequency, and progress monitoring of students—were used to evaluate the schools' levels of implementation.