What is a Full-Service or Community School?
Why Full-Service Schools?
Lessons From AIP’s Full-Service Schools
AIP at the Irving is the oldest existing full-service school in the Boston school district and the first to receive federal funding (through the U.S. Department of Education/Eisenhower Foundation) specifically for its full-service school model. AIP’s model at the Irving is recognized nationally as the most elaborated example of a full-service school organized around special education. We have a longstanding interest in promoting full-service schools as a powerful model for education reform and for improving outcomes for students in large urban school districts.
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Using public schools as a hub, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities -- before, during and after school, seven days a week. For a more detailed explanation of Full-Service Schools, click here.
(Source: Coalition for Community Schools)
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Children need intellectual, social, physical, and emotional supports in order to be ready to learn. Research by the National Research Council validates that these same supports are important predictors of future adult success.* The Eisenhower Foundation’s comprehensive 2005 evaluation of full-service community schools, conducted on behalf of the US Departmet of Education, including AIP’s program at the Washington Irving Middle School, found that students' needs are better met when services are delivered in a well-coordinated and collaborative manner.
Schools are ideal sites for providing a wide variety of supports and enrichment because children spend so much of their time at school. Full-service schools create an optimal environment for success in instruction, mental health, youth development, physical health, and family engagement. They are collaborative, so they engage multiple organizations and a variety of professionals, parents, and volunteers in the lives of children. They are efficient (and, therefore, affordable) because they leverage existing community resources and multiple funding streams rather than relying on public education dollars to meet the myriad needs of school children. By bringing services into schools, providers can help children to achieve their potential within the children’s natural environment, thus reducing stigma and making for a one-stop-shopping convenience for busy working families.
Full-service schools create an effective context for education. When outside partners provide non-academic services to students, schools are free to focus on what they do best: instruction.
Research on Outcomes of Full-Service Schools shows that full-service schools have “a positive impact on what matters most to students, parents, communities and schools.” (Source: Coalition for Community Schools)
* Eccles, J.S., and J. Gootman, 2002, Programs to Promote Youth Development. Washington, DC: Board on Children, Youth, and Families, Institute of Medicine, National Research Council.
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AIP’s track record demonstrates important lessons for policy and practice in the development of full-service schools. Key lessons:
1. Full-service schools can be sustainable over time through a public/private partnership. AIP’s full-service schools use public dollars as core funding and then build on that commitment to leverage matching dollars from private sources. This extra infusion of support into the schools pays for extensive additional services provided in partnership with the school district. Public school districts are very interested in leveraging significant fiscal matches that advance their goals. Full-service schools will always need some ongoing private funding alongside the school district’s support. For well over a decade, AIP has demonstrated a sustainable and attractive public-to-private funding ratio.
2. Special education resources can effectively drive a full-service school. AIP’s full-service school at the Washington Irving Middle School offers an operating example of this promising model in which an existing school accepted a new special education program designed to attract multiple community partners and funder interest.
3. Full-service schools work when they are developed from the ground up, through a public/private partnership. AIP’s full-service school at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School demonstrates the potential of schools that are designed with a full-service vision and operating structure from the outset.
AIP offers an innovative and tested approach to building sustainability into a full-service school from the beginning. By using special education dollars as its core funding, AIP at the Irving optimizes the promise of a full-service school while addressing some key challenges.
Special education dollars pay for core clinical staff to be present full-time in the school. These mental health resources make the school a place where a broad spectrum of children can succeed. For every one child in the Irving Inclusion Day Program, AIP delivers a variety of clinical, afterschool, and other “full-service” supports to more than five other children in the school. This programming includes activities as varied as community service learning, sports teams, school-based counseling, afterschool programs, arts, activity clubs, homework help, summer program, tutoring, and parent outreach.
On top of our core school district funding, AIP leverages in more than double that amount from other public and private funding sources. All of these resources are pooled to provide a well-supported program for Irving Middle School regular education and special education students. This has been a very successful financial strategy for our organization and for the local school department, illustrating the power of using special education dollars to leverage the build-out of a full-service school.
At the Frederick Pilot Middle School, AIP’s experience demonstrates the benefits of creating a full-service school from the ground up. We joined early in the planning of the school in order to integrate full-service components into the school’s design. The result has been a full-service school that is growing rapidly and organically, with multiple points of overlap and interplay between the school and its lead community partner. The seamless nature of the partnership serves the school and its students well.
AIP at the Frederick is a unique model in part because the Frederick is a new school (opened in 2003) as a Boston pilot school. Pilot schools exist as a result of an agreemnt beween the district and teacher's union to allow the school's leadership considerable autonomy in structuring and operating the school. The full-service school model fits with the Frederick School's pilot status and and vision of their new school as a center of community where the education of the children becomes the shared responsibility of the entire neighborhood.
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Community schools are highly relevant and visible on the current policy agenda. AIP’s work in Boston is linked with a highly significant policy movement in American education at the federal level. In 2008, U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s Full-Service Community Schools Act, authorized $4.9 million for the first time. In FY09, the nation will see the fruits of a first-ever legislative appropriation to fund the infrastructure of full-service school sites across the country.
AIP is proud of our role in helping to bring about this significant change in national education policy, which links U.S. Department of Education dollars and full-service schools for the first time. The federal government’s decision to fund full-service schools was based in part on the positive outcomes of the U.S. Dept. of Education/Eisenhower Foundation’s three-year full-service school demonstration and replication project. The Foundation commissioned a comprehensive evaluation in 2002, which found that “students' needs are better met when the adults responsible for providing services to students come together to deliver those services in a well-coordinated and collaborative manner” (as stated in the 2008 U.S. Federal Register announcement about the Full-Service Community Schools program).
AIP at the Irving was an active participant in the U.S. Department of Education/Eisenhower Foundation national project. Our Irving Full-Service School was one of the project’s demonstration schools and its only urban full-service school site. During the years of the project (2002-2005), we hosted frequent visits from the Eisenhower Foundation and from visitors from across the U.S., Europe, and Asia, as a showcase for the Eisenhower Foundation’s Full-Service Schools Demonstration and Replication Project.
As the evidence for full-service schools grows, it is our hope that the Congressional support at the very highest levels for full-service schools will keep apace.
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Through these venues, we contribute to the dissemination of knowledge about full-service schools and to the creation of a favorable policy climate for full-service schooling:
Boston Full-Service Schools Roundtable - Locally, AIP is active in Boston’s Full-Service Schools Roundtable as a founding member and a steering committee member. This coalition of providers, school district, Massachusetts state human services leaders, and other stakeholders leads the local policy and advocacy agenda to promote full-service schools in Boston and in Massachusetts.
Coalition for Community Schools - Nationally, AIP participates in the efforts of the Coalition for Community Schools to disseminate and replicate full-service schools. This alliance of national, state, and local organizations advocates for community schools as the vehicle for strengthening schools, families, and communities so that together they can improve student learning. The Coalition's mission is to mobilize the resources and capacity of multiple sectors and institutions to create a united movement for community schools.
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