Communities In Schools releases impact report for Tulsa
By: Nour Habib
A national nonprofit working on dropout prevention released a report Monday about the impact of its work in Tulsa schools during the 2014-15 school year.
The report from Communities in Schools of Mid-America, the branch of the national network that operates in Tulsa, states that 99 percent of the students in kindergarten though 12th grade who received targeted and sustained instruction stayed in school last year. The report also says 93 percent of those students were promoted to the next grade, and 94 percent of high school seniors who received services graduated.
The organization has been active in Tulsa schools for about two years, starting with the schools under the Growing Together umbrella. Growing Together has brought together several partners, including CIS, to address educational and social challenges in the Kendall-Whittier and Eugene Field neighborhoods.
In September, the district approved the expansion of the CIS program to several other sites. The program will serve a total of 14 Tulsa sites this year, or a total of almost 8,000 K-12 students.
Stacey Vinson, the Tulsa Public Schools instructional leadership director over the Growing Together schools, said CIS has helped build relationships with students and bridged some of the gap between schools and families.
“They have been critical in assisting those schools with early identification students that are at risk for not completing schools,” Vinson said.
Vinson said the organization addresses barriers students face that can prevent them from completing school, whether due to attendance, behavior or coursework.
According to the CIS report, 74 percent of students served in Tulsa last year who received targeted and sustained services met their attendance goals, 79 percent met their academic goals and 90 percent met their behavioral goals.
According to the September agenda items renewing and expanding the CIS program in the district, CIS “establishes collaborations between service agencies, corporations, foundations, the community and schools to effectively address both the academic and non-academic resources and services needed by at-risk youth in order for them to attain a quality education.”
The types of services brought in for students include tutoring; mentoring; after-school programs; assistance with accessing food, clothing and school supplies; parent involvement activities; English as a Second Language programs; and health services.
“They are making sure that students that need supports don’t fall through the tracks,” Vinson said.
Each school that is part of the program has a full-time CIS site coordinator, who is a CIS employee, Vinson said.
In a way, the site coordinators embody a similar role as a traditional school counselor, but with the ability to provide services outside what a school district can offer.
Jania Wester, the Tulsa affiliate director for CIS of Mid-America, said in a news release, “As a former educator and school principal, I know CIS’ model for student support services and one-on-one relationships break down the barriers that keep teachers from reaching students, even in the midst of great teaching experiences, and principals from focusing on being the amazing instructional leaders.”
TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist said CIS is making a difference in the lives of students in the schools it works in.
“The individualized support CIS provides students and families is resulting in improved academics, attendance and behavior patterns,” Gist said in the news release.