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RFA Releases Policy Brief on Community Schools

Community schools are receiving increased attention in Pennsylvania and across the country as policymakers and practitioners strive to address the effects of poverty on academic performance, and provide more comprehensive supports for traditionally-underserved populations.

Earlier this month, the long-awaited and bipartisan reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), maintained the three largest federal funding streams available to support extended day services or implementation of community school models. And, for the first time, low-income districts were encouraged to use Title I funds for integrated student supports and enhanced community partnerships.

Closer to home, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s inaugural address highlighted community schools and called on the “private sector and non-profit partners to come together” to expand the model citywide.

While many advocates and education leaders tout the promise of community schools, skepticism remains–in part because the model is difficult to implement and sustain, and supporting research is mainly limited to comprehensive, long-running models.

As city and state lawmakers debate the shape and scale of future community school initiatives, RFA is pleased to provide analysis of the existing research on both comprehensive models and common elements, such as expanded day learning opportunities and health supports.

Click here to explore the full brief, including case studies, policy considerations, and lessons learned, and check out RFA’s commentary in last week’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

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