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Research Spotlight on Community Schools

NEA Reviews of Research on Best Practices in Education

Found In: teaching strategies

A community school is both a place - a public school - and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Research shows that its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families, and healthier communities.

The community school model allows schools to become centers of the community, where they’re open to everyone – all day, every day, evenings, and weekends.

Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families, and communities. Partners work to achieve these results:

  • Children are ready to learn when they enter school and every day thereafter. All students learn and achieve to high standards.
  • Young people are well prepared for adult roles in the workplace, as parents and as citizens.
  • Parents and community members are involved with the school and their own life-long learning.

Community schools have two major advantages that schools acting alone do not:

  • They garner additional resources to reduce the demand on school staff for addressing all the challenges that students bring to school.
  • They build social capital – the networks and relationships that support learning and create opportunities for young people while strengthening their communities.
    (Barkin, Dryfoos, and Quinn, 2005)

NEA is an active participant in the work of the Coalition of Community Schools, a partnership that provides a forum for information sharing and collective action, including advocacy. The Coalition, housed at the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, D.C., has published a variety of research studies and background reports on the community schools strategy. Here are some references and related resources on community schools:


Barkin, C., Dryfoos, J., and Quinn, J. (2005). Community Schools in Action: Lessons from a Decade of Practice. New York: Oxford University Press.

Related Links

  • Coalition for Community Schools
    The Web site provides information about the coalition and offers resources to schools and community organizations.
  • Strengthening Schools by Strengthening Families (PDF icon PDF)
    Kim Nauer, Andrew White, and Rajeev Vernani (October 2008)
    This report gives a one-year snapshot of New York City schools’ efforts to reverse rates of early chronic absences in the early grades as well as strategies on how to improve supports for children and families.
  • All Together Now: Sharing Responsibility for the Whole Child (PDF icon PDF)
    Martin Blank and Amy Berg (July 2006)
    This paper provides a rationale for why schools and communities must work together. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
  • Community Based Learning: Engaging Students for Success and Citizenship
    Martin Blank and Amy Berg (March 2006)
    This report highlights the values of the community-based learning approach to improving academic outcomes, including test scores, attendance rates, and graduation rates, as well as civic, moral, personal, social, and work-related outcomes. Community Schools.


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