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The Oklahoma Center for Educational Policy
The Community School Effect Evidence from an Evaluation of the Tulsa Area Community School Initiative November 2010
Curt M. Adams University of Oklahoma The Oklahoma Center for Educational Policy
This report was prepared for the Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative (TACSI). Do not cite without permission from the TACSI Director. Questions about the research design and findings may be directed to Curt Adams at [email protected] The research was supported by the Oklahoma Center for Educational Policy. The investigator does not have a financial interest in TACSI or community schools that could bias the findings of the report.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This report would not have been possible without the support of colleagues at the Oklahoma Center for Educational Policy. Their assistance in conceptualizing the design and providing critical feedback was invaluable. In particular, the qualitative data collected and analyzed by Dr. Gaetane Jean-Marie was instrumental for understanding how principals in the mentoring and sustaining schools diffused core components of the community school model. Additionally, her ideas, reflections, and critical questions challenged the research to extend beyond merely providing evidence on achievement effects. Dr. Lisa Bass and doctoral candidate Kathy Curry also made helpful contributions to the evaluation design, data collection, and analysis. Finally, I want to thank the management team of TACSI and the principals of TACSI schools for their openness and willingness to share their story. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Curt M. Adams is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He is also a research scientist with the Oklahoma Center for Educational Policy. His research addresses school improvement through the lens of social conditions in school organizations. Recent publications include: Collective Trust: Why Schools Can’t Improve Without It (with Patrick Forsyth and Wayne Hoy, Teachers College Press). The Formation of Parent-School Trust: A Multi-level Analysis (Educational Administrative Quarterly), The Nature and Function of Trust in Schools (Journal of School Leadership), and Social Determinants of Student Trust in High Poverty Elementary Schools (a chapter in Analyzing School Contexts: Influences of Principals and Teachers in Service of Students).
ABOUT THE CENTER The Oklahoma Center for Education Policy (OCEP) was established as a resource for the State of Oklahoma and its education policy makers at the State, district, community and school levels. OU scholars from both the Norman and Tulsa campuses and from various disciplines are tapped as needed to address research needs as they are identified. Some projects are identified by the core scholars of OCEP and result in policy white papers, evaluation reports, or scholarly publications. Other research projects are contracted with civil and governmental agencies. .
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This study used data collected from 18 community schools associated with the Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative (TACSI) and 18 comparable non community schools to test the achievement effect attributed to the community school model. The primary research questions were: Is there an achievement difference between students in TACSI schools and students in comparable non TACSI schools? Does diffusion of the community school model make a difference in student achievement? If an achievement effect exists, what social conditions contribute to differences in student achievement? Is there an achievement difference between students in TACSI schools and students in comparable non TACSI schools? Significant math and reading achievement differences were not found when comparing students in TACSI schools and comparable non TACSI schools. Graph one shows that the average TACSI student performed slightly below the average non TACSI student in math. These differences were eliminated when individual poverty was entered in the model, suggesting that differences between the two groups were largely a function of differences in individual student poverty rather than systematic differences between schools. Mean Math Achievement 717.7
Mean Math Achievement Non F/R LUNCH F/R LUNCH
Does diffusion of the community school model in TACSI schools make a difference in student achievement? Significant achievement differences were found when accounting for the development of the community school model. The evidence suggests that bringing the community school model to scale in TACSI schools has the potential to enhance student achievement and to narrow the achievement gap attributed to poverty. Controlling for level of diffusion provided a different achievement picture than a simple comparison between TACSI and non TACSI schools. Students in TACSI schools that had reached the mentoring and sustaining levels of diffusion significantly outperformed other students in the original sample. Nearly all of the mentoring and sustaining students were high poverty students. When isolating the poverty effect, results indicate that students in mentoring and sustaining schools significantly outperformed comparable students in other schools. In short, the efficacy of the community school model as operationalized in TACSI is greatest when core components have been fully diffused to the school level.
Mean Math Achievement 741.9
729.9 +32 717.9
Comparison Mentoring and Sustaining
Mean Math Achievement Non F/R Lunch
F/R Lunch 723.4
Post Hoc Analyses: Closing the Poverty Gap 688.4
Mentoring and Sustaining
Two additional samples were drawn in order to test the durability of the achievement effect when comparing student performance in schools with a more affluent student composition. Comparison schools in the first sample had an average school poverty rate of 48 percent whereas the average poverty rate for the second sample was 20 percent. Results from the first post hoc showed there were no significant differences in the math achievement between groups of students. There was, however, a significant difference in the poverty gap, with students in mentoring and sustaining schools significantly outperforming poverty students from schools with a more affluent composition. A similar relationship was found with the second sample. Students in mentoring and sustaining TACSI schools significantly outperformed free/reduced lunch students in the comparison schools where the average poverty rate was 20 percent. Mean Math Achievement
755.3 F/RLUNCH 739.2
Mentoring and Sustaining
Estimated Marginal Means of Math Achievement 780.00
Comparison Schools Mentoring/Sustaining Schools
Non F/R Lunch
If an achievement effect exists, what social conditions contribute to differences in student achievement? Reforms, much like policies or planned change, do not directly influence achievement. The effect is more indirect, operating through social conditions in schools to shape student and school performance. Conditions for learning targeted by TACSI are the mechanisms to promote effective teaching and to satisfy the learning needs of students. Two school level conditions in particular were found to significantly predict student achievement: student trust in teachers and faculty trust in students and parents. Student performance is likely to improve when collective trust defines the behaviors and social interactions of teachers, parents, and students. In short, collective trust mediated the relationship between student poverty and achievement.
F/RLUNCH Average School Math Achievement 720.7
Standardized Student Trust Levels No F/RLUNCH F/R LUNCH
Average School Math Achievement 719.1
Standardized Faculty Trust in Students and Parents Levels