Community Schools Forward
The community schools strategy transforms a school into a place where educators, local community members, families, and students work together to strengthen conditions for student learning and healthy development. As partners, they organize in- and out-of-school resources, supports, and opportunities so that young people thrive.
The Community Schools Forward task force, convened by four national partners —the Center for Universal Education at Brookings, the Children’s Aid National Center for Community Schools, the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Coalition for Community Schools, and the Learning Policy Institute—has spent much of the last year bringing together national and local Community School practitioners and advocates to identify and create field-informed resources to align, build, and scale evidence-based, effective, and sustainable Community Schools.
See the webinar recording for Essential resources for driving Community Schools Forward here.
This resource is intended to unpack the essentials of community school transformation and show the activities community schools undertake as they move from their initial commitment to the strategy to full implementation. The Theory of Action for Community School Transformation (Theory of Action) shows how the strategy revolves around a continuous improvement cycle that includes planning, implementing, working toward impact and outcomes, and monitoring progress, all of which rely on a supportive infrastructure.
Community Schools are places where educators, local community members, families, and students work together to strengthen conditions for student learning and healthy development. This framework for Community Schools includes the key practices, supportive infrastructure, enabling conditions, essential players, and guiding vision for all students to thrive. Developed by the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, the Children’s Aid National Center for Community Schools, the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership, and the Learning Policy Institute as part of the #CSForward project.
This study has three guiding questions: 1.What are the current challenges, best practices, and emerging trends in community schools? 2.How are technical assistance, capacity development, and onboarding for new employees in community schools currently provided? 3.What type of technical assistance, coaching, and learning do education practitioners want and need?
Transforming a traditional school into a community school not only requires changing practices and culture but can also involve hiring new staff and utilizing new resources, in addition to leveraging existing resources. The #CommunitySchools Costing Tool allows you to specify info about your district, available resources, and desired elements for a community school, and receive an estimate of additional funding required to establish a community school. Developed by the Learning Policy Institute with the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, the Children’s Aid National Center for Community Schools, and the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership as part of the #CSForward project.
The stages of development tool should be used by school communities who have committed to the community school strategy and met conditions of readiness (in development). The stages of community school development are not linear, a school may be “transforming” in some characteristics or processes and “emerging” in others. External factors, such as leadership changes or funding shifts may disrupt or derail this process (see visual below). Schools should not expect to move through a stage each year or in a predictable or scheduled way. This tool has been developed for individual community school transformation, additional resources exist and are being updated for system or district stages of development. which is also a necessary, simultaneous process.
This tool is designed to support implementers and evaluators in assessing and informing progress toward these goals. It offers a set of specific outcomes to be achieved and measurable indicators of these outcomes. These outcomes and indicators can be used to monitor short- and medium-term progress toward locally determined goals. They also can provide data to guide continuous improvement of the local community school strategy.
Building a Community Schools System is written for diverse audiences engaged in Community Schools efforts, from planning to integration of the Community Schools strategy in their community and/or district to existing systems of schools looking to further sustain, deepen, and expand this strategy.