Community Schools: Improving Academic Achievement Through Meaningful Engagement

Community Schools: Improving Academic Achievement Through Meaningful Engagement

Sarah Feroza Freeland (University of Tennessee – Knoxville, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0280-8.ch008

Abstract

This chapter explores the connection between a school's efforts to engage with parents and community members and the academic achievement of its students. The author examines two case studies from Tennessee- the charter school model within the state-run Achievement School District in Memphis, and the community school model in Knoxville. The chapter begins with an explanation of key terms, followed by an introduction of each case study. Next, the author compares student academic achievement within each educational model, demonstrating that the community schools have achieved greater gains than the charter schools. The author then analyzes survey and interview data from parents and community members to compare each educational model's parental and community engagement efforts. Ultimately, the author concludes that in Tennessee, the community school model has been more effective than the charter school model in improving student academic achievement in large part because of its emphasis on meaningful engagement with parents and community members.
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Definition Of Key Terms

A charter school is generally defined as a publicly-funded school that operates independently of the local school district (Murphy & Shiffman, 2002). These schools operate under a written agreement, known as a charter, usually issued by a state or local government agency (Brouillette, 2002). The charter is granted to a charter operator, which directly oversees the day-to-day operations of the school. There are several types of charter operators, but for the purposes of this chapter, the focus will be on charter management organizations (CMOs), which are non-profit entities that operate multiple schools (Epple, Romano, & Zimmer, 2016). Well-known national CMOs include Green Dot and the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). The majority of the schools within the ASD are run by CMOs, and the analysis of the ASD in this chapter focuses exclusively on those schools.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System: A metric published annually by the Tennessee Department of Education that measures the change in student academic achievement over time for schools in the state.

Charter School: A publicly-funded school that operates independently of the local school district.

University-Assisted Community School: A community school that leverages the resources of a university as its anchoring institution.

Achievement School District: A state-run special school district in Tennessee with the authority to take over the operation of any school within the bottom five percent of the state in terms of academic achievement.

Community School: A traditional public school that partners with community organizations to provide services that meet the holistic needs of students and families.

Charter Management Organization: A non-profit entity that operates multiple charter schools.

Student Academic Achievement: The progress of students towards meeting academic benchmarks, generally measured by grades and test scores.

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