The case for community schools
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In Texas, one in every four children lives in poverty. Poverty negatively impacts children in a myriad of ways, which ultimately can effect their achievement in school. With accountability standards rising, struggling schools are working to increase student achievement through various turnaround strategies to keep their doors open. Often times, turnaround strategies solely focus on administration, teachers, and curriculum. These strategies have had mixed results and fail to address one of the root causes of low student achievement, poverty. The purpose of this report is to present an alternative turnaround strategy that addresses poverty’s negative effect on students while simultaneously increasing student achievement. A community school is an alternate turnaround strategy that serves as a place-based institution within a community where students are both held to high academic standards and have access to whole-child focused services, programs, and opportunities to address out-of-school challenges. Community schools collaborate with outside partners to meet the needs of students, families, and the broader community. By addressing out-of-school barriers that hamper student success by localizing and coordinating services on the campus, community schools across the United States have seen improved academic achievement, attendance rates, behavior, and engagement. This report identifies eight common attributes of successful community schools, explores the positive outcomes of community schools, and argues that Texas should allow struggling schools to adopt the community school model as a turnaround strategy to achieve student success.