Stages of development in transforming schools into community schools

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“Community schools—an education reform strategy—have been described as another way of thinking and acting and a new way of “doing” school. This type of school transformation is complex, involves change that can be uncomfortable, and doesn’t happen overnight.

Starting in the 1990s, the Children’s Aid National Center for Community Schools reflected on the development of their own community schools and, in working with other efforts nationally, observed that community school systems and processes become more refined and stronger over time. As community schools across the country accumulate their own experiences, lessons learned, and wise practices, the National Center continues to think about how community school strategies evolve and mature through “stages of development.”

Community Schools Forward’s Stages of Development Tool

A working group of the Community Schools Forward task force—a project led by the Center for Universal Education at Brookings Institution, the Children’s Aid National Center for Community Schools, the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leaderships, and the Learning Policy Institute—revisited the National Center’s 2017 stages of community schools’ development tool to reflect on the realities across implementation periods. The result is an updated tool that is aligned with the task force’s Essentials for Community School Transformation. In this framework, key community school practice areas include; family and youth engagement, expanded, enriched learning opportunities, cultivating a culture of belonging, collaborative leadership, shared power and voice, integrated systems of support, and rigorous, community-connected classroom instruction.

With the support of technical assistance, local community school expertise, and capacity development, the Stages of Development Tool is designed to guide and transform a local school and its surrounding community into a community school.”

Read the full commentary here.