Skip Navigation
archived information
Stay Up-to-Date:

Home > Ask A REL > Response

What empirical information is there about the effectiveness of Community Schools?

November 2017

Following an established REL Northeast & Islands research protocol, we conducted a search for recent research on community schools, focusing on identifying resources that specifically addressed the effectiveness of community schools. The sources searched included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, academic research databases, and general Internet search engines (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response and we offer them only for your reference. Because our search for references is based on the most commonly used resources of research, it is not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist.

Research References

  1. Fehrer, K. & Leos-Urbel, J. (2016). “We’re One Team”: Examining Community School Implementation Strategies in Oakland. Education Sciences 6(26).
    From the abstract: “The community school model posits that the traditional school model is not sufficient to overcome the role of poverty in equitable access to learning, and that improving student achievement requires addressing the needs of the whole child. By leveraging community partnerships to address student barriers to learning and shift relationships between schools, families, and community, the community school model represents an expanded vision of what schools are, who they include, and what they are responsible for. This paper aims to improve our understanding of community school implementation, based on qualitative research in five community schools in Oakland, California. We apply the Children's Aid Society's framework of four community school capacities including: (1) comprehensiveness; (2) collaboration; (3) coherence; and (4) commitment (Lubell, 2011) in our analysis. We find evidence of a collaborative culture, in which school and community partner staff worked together across traditional boundaries to serve students. Schools showed signs of coherence of vision and goals, and alignment of services and supports with the instructional core of the school. Community school strategies not only provided important school-based services but also represented an expansion of the traditional school model by leveraging and aligning community partners to improve student outcomes.”
  2. Sanders, M. (2016). Leadership, partnerships, and organizational development: Exploring components of effectiveness in three full-service community schools. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 27(2), 157-177. Direct link to article: _partnerships_and_organizational_development_exploring_components_of_effectiveness _in_three_full-service_community_schools/links/578d26d308ae5c86c9a655d6.pdf
    From the abstract: “Full-service community schools are viewed as an approach to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for underserved student populations. The realization of these goals, however, is not guaranteed. According to Richardson’s (2009) research-based model of highly effective community schools (HECS), the effectiveness of full-service community schools depends on 3 interrelated components: leadership, partnerships, and organizational development. This qualitative case study uses the HECS model to examine different levels of effectiveness among 3 full-service community schools in an urban district in the eastern United States. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of Richardson’s model for practice and research.”
  3. Anderson, J., Houser, J. H. W., & Howland, A. (2010). The Full Purpose Partnership Model for Promoting Academic and Socio-Emotional Success in Schools. School Community Journal, 20(1), 31-54.
    From the abstract: “In 2003, a partnership between a local system of care and a large urban school district led to the creation of a schoolwide educational model called the Full Purpose Partnership (FPP). This model was implemented in several elementary schools in Indianapolis, Indiana to integrate the principles of systems of care and wraparound with the techniques of positive behavioral interventions and supports. The goal of the model is to build school capacity for simultaneously addressing students' educational, health (including mental health), social, and psychological needs. The overall objective is to positively impact school functioning for all students. The application of systems of care to schools and their integration with positive behavioral interventions and supports is relatively new, and thus, the purpose of the evaluation reported in this paper was to increase understanding. Data were collected through interviews and focus groups with members of the various stakeholder groups involved with the FPP. In addition, one member of the evaluation team acted as a participant observer in the FPP schools. Using an emergent case study design, this study focused primarily on the operation of the FPP model visa- vis stakeholder perceptions regarding model implementation. Emerging themes included: (1) the role of Care Coordinators in FPP schools; (2) adult "buy-in" and other factors impacting FPP implementation; (3) school climate; and (4) mental health and behavioral impact. Results suggest that the FPP model is positively influencing not only participating schools but the entire school district.”
  4. Oakes, J., Maier, A., & Daniel, J. (2017). Community Schools: An Evidence-Based Strategy for Equitable School Improvement. National Education Policy Center.
    From the abstract: “This brief examines the research on community schools, with two primary emphases. First, it explores whether the 2015 federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) opens the possibility of investing in well-designed community schools to meet the educational needs of low-achieving students in high-poverty schools. And second, it provides support to school, district, and state leaders as they consider, propose, or implement a community school intervention in schools targeted for comprehensive support. The brief is drawn from a larger research review, available at This review shows that the evidence base on well-implemented community schools and their component features provides a strong warrant for their potential contribution to school improvement. Sufficient evidence meeting ESSA's criteria for "evidence-based" approaches exists to justify including community schools as part of targeted and comprehensive interventions in high-poverty schools. This evidence also supports community schools as an approach appropriate for broader use. Policymakers who want to incorporate a community schools strategy into their ESSA state plans--as well as other plans for state and local school improvements--can benefit from the research-based lessons presented in this brief. (A list of notes and references is included.)”
  5. Min, M., Anderson, J.A., & Chen, M. (2017). What do we know about full-service community schools? Integrative Research Review with NVivo. School Community Journal, 27(1), 29-54.
    From the abstract: “The full-service community school (FSCS) model is one of the most popular and growing types of community school models, which is widely implemented in under-resourced urban schools. FSCSs offer an alternative to traditional public schools in the U.S. and are designed to coordinate community assets within a school. Given increased attention to this approach by both practitioners and policymakers for supporting schools in disadvantaged communities, the purpose of this study was to examine how scholars are describing FSCSs in the literature and offer suggestions for future research. In addition, this study provides a detailed overview of how to use NVivo to conduct qualitative empirical research reviews across disciplines. Findings indicated that scholarly dialogues about FSCSs converge toward (a) the nature of FSCSs; (b) academic performance in these models; and (c) partnerships among schools, communities, and parents. Specific recommendations for future research that will be useful in advancing work on the FSCSs model are included.”


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

Community schools

Community school AND effectiveness/impact

Industry school AND effectiveness

Community school AND student achievement

Community school partnerships AND effectiveness

School partnerships AND effectiveness/ impact

Databases and Resources

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and Ebscohost.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

Date of the publication: References and resources published for last 8 years, from 2009 to present, were included in the search and review.

Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, academic databases, including WWC, ERIC, and NCEE.

Methodology: The following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types – randomized control trials, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, etc., generally in this order; (b) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected, etc.), study duration, etc.; (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, etc.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Northeast & Islands Region (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, US Virgin Islands, and Vermont), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands at Education Development Center. This memorandum was prepared by REL Northeast & Islands under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0008, administered by Education Development Center. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.