Removing Barriers: Using a PDS Model to Enable Collaborative Community and School Partnerships to Serve At-Risk Students

Removing Barriers: Using a PDS Model to Enable Collaborative Community and School Partnerships to Serve At-Risk Students

S. Michael Putman (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA), Jerrell C. Cassady (Ball State University, USA), Lawrence L. Smith (Ball State University, USA) and Monica L. Heller (Ball State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8632-8.ch059


The purpose of this chapter is to articulate the success of a partnership facilitated by a PDS relationship in serving at-risk students in a collection of schools proximal to a university in the Midwest. The authors begin by describing characteristics of community partnerships, including professional development schools, which both enable and hinder schools and stakeholders when they attempt to build innovative partnerships promoting positive school and community outcomes. They then discuss how they leveraged the resources of the local community, a teacher education program, and the local schools to develop and implement an afterschool academic support program targeting students at-risk for school failure. In addition to explaining the procedural elements that were found to be useful in breaking down traditional barriers to effective partnerships (e.g., space, finance, staff, quality curriculum support), the authors present the results of their study that demonstrate student gains in both math and reading.
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Effective After-School Programming

The literature on after-school programming is reasonably established, with several models of effective programming available. However, the empirical data to support the impact of most after-school programs is mixed, particularly when academic achievement gains are the outcome measure. This likely results from the fact that after-school program evaluation faces all the traditional complexities of examining the efficacy of programs implemented in schools with the added threats to internal and external validity that are inherent to out-of-school program implementations. Among the most common added threats to validity are fluctuations in populations served, loose or shifting program goals, instability in program attendance, insufficient outcome variables, and limited expertise among program staff (Lauer et al., 2004; McComb & Scott-Little, 2003; Redd, Cochran, Hair, & Moore, 2002). As a result, definitive conclusions demonstrating academic gains in after school programs are often lacking.

While the collective findings are mixed, after-school programs have shown predominantly positive results when they meet two basic criteria: (a) clear connections between classroom and after-school learning goals, and (b) trained staff implementing a well-structured program (Redd, et al., 2002). Additional characteristics of success have arisen in recent analyses of programs with at least partial attention to academic gains. The characteristics include:

  • Focusing on students most at-risk for academic or social failure;

  • High expectations and positive social norms expected of participants;

  • Safe environments;

  • Partnering with local community resources and the utilization of volunteers as well as stable, trained personnel; and

  • Frequent assessment (Beckett, Hawken, & Jacknowitz, 2001; Bodilly & Beckett, 2005; Caplan & Calfee, 2006; Huang, Cho, Mostafavi, & Nam, 2010; Pierce, Bolt, & Vandell, 2010).

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