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Making the Grade: Assessing the Evidence for Integrated Student Supports
By Child Trends, 2014

This month we recommend Making the Grade: Assessing the Evidence for Integrated Student Supports, a study released on February 25 by Child Trends. The report highlights integrated student supports, such as those at the core of the community school strategy, as a promising approach for closing education achievement gaps.   

The report concludes that ISS could be an effective strategy for providing at-risk students the academic and non-academic supports necessary for educational success.  The Children’s Aid Society community schools are included in the study, along with City Connects, Comer School Development Program, Communities in Schools, Say Yes to Education, Beacon Initiative, University-Assisted Community SchoolsElev8 and School of the 21st Century.  

Child Trends conducted an extensive review of the research and evaluations underlying ISS approaches operating in elementary, middle and high schools across the country. ISS approaches promote academic success by securing and coordinating supports tailored to the specific needs of at-risk students. These supports can include tutoring and mentoring, linking students to physical and mental health care, and connecting their families to parent education, family counseling and food banks. A key component of all the models reviewed is the use of assessments to identify supports needed and data to monitor progress over time.

“Overall, we found that ISS is solidly grounded in decades of research on child and youth development, there is promising initial evidence that ISS models improve academic outcomes and there are preliminary studies finding a positive return on investment,” says Kristin Anderson Moore, Ph.D., senior scholar at Child Trends and lead author of the study. “Because the evidence is both promising and preliminary, we urge the field to continue to refine and test ISS models.”