Communities In Schools of Seattle Programs
CISS currently works in: Rainier Beach High School, Aki Kurose Middle and Denny International Middle School and Graham Hill Elementary School. The heart of CISS’ program is placement of a full-time School Success Coordinator at each partner school site who delivers both school-wide enrichment activities as well as sustained, targeted and individualized interventions to increase achievement and participation for students most at risk of dropping out.
At the beginning of the school year, the 10% most academically-challenged youth are identified and selected for high-intensity interventions. Coordinators conduct formal intakes and work with each student to create a Student Success Plan to outline strategic interventions. Activities include: tutoring and homework assistance; goal-setting; mentoring; drug/alcohol prevention and intervention; prevention programs to reduce high risk behaviors such as gang involvement and teen pregnancy; classes on money management, résumé-writing and summer opportunities; workshops to help with identifying potential colleges and careers and completing related essays and applications; and home visits to engage targeted families. The coordinator works closely with school personnel and builds partnerships with community members, businesses and other service providers to facilitate delivery of specialized services.
In addition to individual, intensive interventions, the Coordinator delivers school-wide services to encourage engagement from the entire school population. These enrichment activities include field trips, community events, presentations, family fitness nights and distribution of donations from CISS’ annual Stuff the Bus school supply drive.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
At Graham Hill Elementary School, CISS provides Reading Buddies for students who are behind. A volunteer meets with a student for 30 minutes twice a week and works on reading, comprehension and vocabulary. One teacher was so pleased with the program that she wrote “reading buddies has really changed the lucky participants in my class. Before the buddies came along, “Kelly” and “Daniqua” wouldn’t even read books. They would look at them and skip through many pages with zero comprehension. Reading Buddies has changed their whole attitude towards reading. It is really amazing. Buddies know about what I teach in class and are helping the girls work on those and other helpful strategies. The girls consistently come to me and tell me about what they are reading. They are excited, and both girls went from below grade level at the beginning of the year to at or above grade level now! This is amazing. Please continue doing this great work. You are truly appreciated!”
The Communities In Schools program model was the basis for a five year comprehensive evaluation that concluded the Communities In Schools model resulted in the strongest reduction in dropout rates of any existing fully-scaled dropout prevention program that has been evaluated; that Communities In Schools is unique in having an effect on both reducing dropout rates and increasing graduation rates; and that the Communities In Schools model is effective across states, school settings, grade levels and student ethnicities.
To continue to provide such strong support to students, CISS needs:
- increased funding to support the program sites and expand to new ones
- more tutors and mentors at each site
- more community partners to support students