Results to Date

Since the opening of our first community school in 1992, CAS has made a strong commitment to evaluating results through a series of third-party evaluations conducted by Fordham University, the Education Development Center, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, ActKnowledge and others. Our intent has been to document multiple results for youth, families and schools—results that emanate directly from our efforts to align our resources with the schools’ core instructional programs, to enrich the learning environment of the school and to reduce barriers to student learning and family well-being. The following outcomes are the results of studies over a 19-year period. (Download )

Academic Performance

The earliest evaluation of our community schools, conducted from 1993 to 1996 by a collaborative team from Fordham University, documented steady progress in reading and Math at I.S. 218 and P.S. 5, compared to similar neighborhood schools. At I.S. 218, math performance rose from 37 percent of students at grade level in 1994, to 44 percent in 1995,
to 51 percent in 1996—a total change of nearly 40 percent over two years. In the third grade class that entered P.S. 5 in 1993, its first year in operation, only 10.4 percent of students were reading at grade level. In that same class, 16.2 percent of students were reading at grade level by the fourth grade, and 35.4 percent by the fifth grade. Math achievement at P.S. 5 increased from 23.4 percent at grade level in the third grade class in 1993, to 32.1 percent in fourth grade and 56 percent in fifth grade. Later evaluations showed that students at I.S. 218 and P.S. 5 continued to improve in math and reading scores.
A later evaluation (2004–07) conducted by ActKnowledge found that middle school students who participated in CAS after-school programs experienced greater academic gains than their non-participating peers. This evaluation also found that more participation led to higher achievement gains. Students who had higher levels of participation in CAS after-school programs demonstrated higher levels of achievement in math and reading test scores and school attendance, and their teachers reported an increase in their motivation to learn. A third evaluation, conducted by ActKnowledge in 2009, just after the New York City Department of Education began assessing the progress of individual schools in comparison to all City schools and to peer schools, found that CAS community schools averaged greater student achievement gains than other schools.

Student Attendance

All three of the studies cited above found that students in CAS community schools have higher attendance than students in comparison schools, no matter how the comparisons are made (carefully matched by third-party evaluators, or designated as peer schools by the New York City Department of Education). The 2009 ActKnowledge study found that CAS community schools had ―far higher attendance than peer schools, and that schools with on-site health centers tended to have higher attendance than those without.

Teacher Attendance

Another important finding on attendance came from the early Fordham University studies, in which the evaluators found teacher attendance to be higher at community schools than
at comparison schools. This finding directly correlates with cost savings since schools with higher teacher attendance have less need to spend their scarce resources on substitutes. In addition, higher teacher attendance means less disruption for students. Overall, this finding indicates that working in a community school allows teachers to do what they were hired to do: to teach their students. Teachers reported being able to spend more time on instruction than their counterparts in comparison schools. This included spending more time on class preparation and more time working directly with children.

School Climate

Several studies found the atmosphere of CAS community schools to be markedly different from other schools. They appeared more busy and cheerful, and exhibited few signs of violence or graffiti. Parents, students and teachers reported feeling welcome and safe.

Parent and Family Engagement

According to the Fordham University researchers, the dramatic levels of parent involvement in the CAS community schools were among the most significant findings of their six-year study. Parents were more involved, took more responsibility for their children’s school work, felt more welcome within the school and were observed to be a greater presence in the community schools than in comparison schools. Parents also took advantage of the many services offered to them, such as social services and adult education workshops.

Mental and Physical Health

In a study of two middle schools, mental health services demonstrated impressive progress
in helping students cope with mental health challenges. The evaluation documented improvements on a wide range of mental health problems, and a significant portion were resolved within the school year. In addition, students in the study maintained their grade point average—a significant achievement for students facing multiple mental health challenges. Other studies of health services in CAS community schools found dramatic increases in children’s access to quality health care; better student and family management of chronic illnesses, particularly asthma; and improvements in students’ vision (which, according to their teachers, often produces immediate improvements in their behavior).

Positive Youth Development

Several studies documented that students in CAS community schools—and particularly those who participate regularly in our high quality after-school programs—report higher self-esteem, school engagement, career aspirations and sense of responsibility to the community than other young people. After-school participants report reading more books and watching less television than non-participants. Behavioral conduct of elementary school students at a CAS community school improved significantly more than did that of students at a comparable elementary school.

School Readiness

Three CAS community schools have early childhood programs integrated into elementary schools. Several studies of these programs have documented important indicators of school readiness, including development of early literacy and of social-emotional skills. Parents benefit from their participation in these programs as well: for example, mothers in Early Head Start showed decreases in depression and stress over the course of participation in the program, and increases in the quality and size of their social support networks. In another study parents reported feelings of improved confidence in their parenting knowledge and abilities as a result of program participation.

Research and Evaluations of CAS Community Schools 1993–2011

Extensive passages in this chapter were excerpted from the report, "Summary of Research Findings, 1992–1999," by Hélene Clark, Ph.D. and Robert Engle of ActKnowledge at the Center for Human Environments of the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Fordham University Research Findings 1992–1999: Robinson, E., Ph.D. (1993). An Interim Evaluative Report Concerning a Collaboration Between The Children’s Aid Society, New York City Board of Education, Community School District 6 and the I.S. 218 Salomé Ureña de Henríquez Middle Academies, Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services.

Brickman, E., Ph.D. (1996). A Formative Evaluation of P.S. 5: A Children’s Aid Society/Board of Education Community School, Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services.

Brickman, E., Ph.D. and Cancelli, A., Ph.D. (1997). Washington Heights Community Schools Evaluation: First Year Findings, Fordham University Graduate School of Education.

Brickman, E., Ph.D., Cancelli, A., Ph.D., Sanchez, A., M.S., and Rivera, G. (1998). The Children’s Aid Society/Board of Education Community Schools: Second-Year Evaluation Report, Fordham University Graduate School of Education and Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services.

Brickman, E., Ph.D., Cancelli, A., Ph.D., Sanchez, A., M.S., and Rivera, G. (1998). The Children’s Aid Society/Board of Education Community Schools: Second-Year Evaluation Report, Fordham University Graduate School of Education and Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services.

Caspe, M. (2005). Home-School Connection Project: Final Report for 2004–2005Head Start Year.

Caspe, M., Kahana-Kalman, R.M., Seltzer, A. (2006). “You See Things with Different Eyes”: Parents’ Long-Term Perceptions of the Head Start Experience, The Eighth National Head Start Research Conference.

Caspe, M., Quezada, E., Gillman, M. (2007). Talk and Play: A Research-based Enrichment Program Serving Low-income Latino Children and Families. Caspe, M., Quezada, E., Gillman, M. R. Seltzer, A. (2007). Talk and Play/Jugando y Hablando, Unpublished Final Report.

Clark, H., et al. (2005). 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Six New York City Middle Schools Year One Findings, ActKnowledge.

Clark, H., et al. (2009). Study comparing Children’s Aid Society Community Schools to Other New York City Public Schools (All Schools and Peer Schools), ActKnowledge. Kennedy, J.L. (2011). Go! Books Program Evaluation Final Report of Study Findings, New York University.