Why Integrated Student Support

Integrated student support draws on many different fields. Here are some of the knowledge building blocks on which integrated support stands. 

Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (1998). The ecology of developmental processes. In W. Damon & R.M. Lerner (Eds.). Handbook of Child Psychology: Vol 1: Theoretical Models of Human Development (pp. 993-1028). New York: Wiley.

Abstract: This chapter introduces the bioecological model, which posits that people are  actively involved in shaping their own development through interactions with their environment. Proximal processes – these interactions with the environment – are the “enginges of development,” and the form, power, content, and direction of these processes vary as a function of the person and his or her environment.

Masten, A. S. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American psychologist, 56(3), 227. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.56.3.227

Abstract: The study of resilience in development has overturned many negative assumptions and deficit-focused models about children growing up under the threat of disadvantage and adversity. The most surprising conclusion emerging from studies of thesechildren is the ordinariness of resilience. An examination of converging findings from variable-focused and person-focused investigations of these phenomena suggests that resilience is common and that it usually arises from the normative functions of human adaptational systems, with the greatest threats to human development being those that compromise these protective systems. The conclusion that resilience is made of ordinary rather than extraordinary processes offers a more positive outlook on human development and adaptation, as well as direction for policy and practice aimed at enhancing the development of children at risk for problems and psychopathology.

Walsh, M. E., & DePaul, J. (2008). The essential role of school-community partnerships in school counseling. In H. L. K. Coleman & C. Yeh (Eds.), Handbook of school counseling (pp. 765-783). Baltimore: MidAtlantic Books & Journals.

Abstract: This chapter examines the role of school counselors in fostering and supporting school-community agency partnerships. After reviewing the evolution of school–community partnerships, with particular emphasis on their contribution to shaping the role of school counselors over decades, the chapter will discuss the fundamental developmental principles that simultaneously inform school–community partnerships and guide the practice of school counselors in this area. Following a discussion of the challenges inherent in school–community partnerships, the chapter will review “best practices” for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of school–community partnerships. Finally, this chapter will conclude with a discussion of the various models of school–community partnerships.

Dearing, E. (2008). Psychological costs of growing up poor. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1136(1), 324-332. doi: 10.1196/annals.1425.006

Abstract: This chapter provides a synopsis of the extensive empirical and theoretical literatures on the psychological development of youth growing up poor. Low family income has statistically and practically significant costs for children’s psychological development in cognitive and social-emotional domains, as shown by high rates of academic failure and mental health problems among youth growing up poor. These psychological costs are incurred primarily because poverty limits children’s access to developmental stimulation and heightens their exposure to stress in both their physical and psychosocial environments. Yet, convergent evidence from experimental and nonexperimental studies also indicates that improving the economic well-being of poor families translates into improved psychological well-being for poor youth.

Kaushal, N., Magnuson, K., Waldfogel, J. (2011). How is family income related to investments in children's learning? In: G. Duncan & R. Murnane (Eds.). Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality and the Uncertain Life Chances of Low-Income Children (pp. 187-206). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Abstract: In this chapter, the authors explore the extent to which families’ investments in items and activities related to learning differ by income. The analysis relies on the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX) and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K). The data span from 1997 to 2006, and include family expenditures on education-related items and activities such as music and art lessons, children’s books and toys, sports equipment and classes, and tutoring. Our analyses from the CEX data suggest that as family expenditures (our rough proxy of permanent income) rise, so too does spending on items of enrichment. This pattern is present not only at one point in time (via cross-sectional data) but also over time (via longitudinal data) as expenditures on enrichment activities change when family financial resources change. The analysis of the ECLS-K indicates that the learning-related items children possess and the enrichment activities in which they participate vary considerably by family income, with higher-income families providing substantially more enriching environments and activities for their children than low-income families. Thus, both data sets point to substantial income-related gaps in education-related items and activities. To the extent that such investments matter for child outcomes, economic inequality among families, and the associated differences in such investments, may contribute to future inequality.

Leventhal, T., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2000). The neighborhoods they live in: the effects of neighborhood residence on child and adolescent outcomes. Psychological bulletin, 126(2), 309. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.126.2.309

Abstract: This article provides a comprehensive review of research on the effects of neighborhood residence on child and adolescent well-being. The first section reviews key methodological issues. The following section considers links between neighborhood characteristics and child outcomes and suggests the importance of high socioeconomic status (SES) for achievement and low SES and residential instability for behavioral/emotional outcomes. The third section identifies 3 pathways (institutional resources, relationships, and norms/collective efficacy) through which neighborhoods might influence development, and which represent an extension of models identified by C. Jencks and S. Mayer (1990) and R. J. Sampson (1992). The models provide a theoretical base for studying neighborhood mechanisms and specify different levels (individual, family, school, peer, community) at which processes may operate. Implications for an emerging developmental framework for research on neighborhoods are discussed.

Noble, K. G., Houston, S. M., Brito, N. H., Bartsch, H., Kan, E., Kuperman, J. M., ... & Sowell, E. R. (2015). Family income, parental education and brain structure in children and adolescents. Nature Neuroscience, 18(5), 773-778. doi: 10.1038/nn.3983

Abstract: Socioeconomic disparities are associated with differences in cognitive development. The extent to which this translates to disparities in brain structure is unclear. Here, we investigated relationships between socioeconomic factors and brain morphometry, independently of genetic ancestry, among a cohort of 1099 typically developing individuals between 3 and 20 years. Income was logarithmically associated with brain surface area. Specifically, among children from lower income families, small differences in income were associated with relatively large differences in surface area, whereas, among children from higher income families, similar income increments were associated with smaller differences in surface area. These relationships were most prominent in regions supporting language, reading, executive functions and spatial skills; surface area mediated socioeconomic differences in certain neurocognitive abilities. These data indicate that income relates most strongly to brain structure among the most disadvantaged children. Potential implications are discussed.

Reardon, S. F. (2013). The widening income achievement gap. Educational Leadership, 70(8), 10-16.

Abstract: This paper investigates the question: has the academic achievement gap between students from high-income and low-income families changed in the last few decades? And if so, why? To answer the question, the author conducted a study of the relationship between academic achievement and family income in the United States over the last 50 years with data from 12 nationally representative studies. The findings indicates that the income achievement gap has grown significantly in the last three decades, income gaps in other measures of education success (such as college completion rate) have also grown, and the income achievement gap is already large when children enter kindergarten, but it does not grow significantly as they progress through school. The author suggests a number of explanations for why the income achievement gap has grown.

Yoshikawa, H., Aber, J. L. & Beardslee, W. R. (2012). The effects of poverty on the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of children and youth. American Psychologist, 67(4), 272-284. doi: 10.1037/a0028015

Abstract: This article considers the implications for prevention science of recent advances in research on family poverty and children’s mental, emotional, and behavioral health. First, we describe definitions of poverty and the conceptual and empirical challenges to estimating the causal effects of poverty on children’s mental, emotional, and behavioral health. Second, we offer a conceptual framework that incorporates selection processes that affect who becomes poor as well as mechanisms through which poverty appears to influence child and youth mental health. Third, we use this conceptual framework to selectively review the growing literatures on the mechanisms through which family poverty influences the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of children. We illustrate how a better understanding of the mechanisms of effect by which poverty impacts children’s mental, emotional, and behavioral health is valuable in designing effective preventive interventions for those in poverty. Fourth, we describe strategies to directly reduce poverty and the implications of these strategies for prevention.

Dearing, E., Walsh, M. E., Sibley, E., Lee‐St John, T., Foley, C., & Raczek, A. E. (2016). Can Community and School‐Based Supports Improve the Achievement of First‐Generation Immigrant Children Attending High‐Poverty Schools?. Child development, 87(3), 883-897. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12507

Abstract: Using a quasi-experimental design, the effects of a student support intervention were estimated for the math and reading achievement of first-generation immigrant children (n = 667, M = 11.05 years of age) attending high-poverty, urban elementary schools. The intervention was designed to help schools identify developmental strengths and barriers to learning and, in turn, connect children to community and school supports aligned with their strengths and needs. By exploiting within-school changes in the implementation of the intervention, the present study revealed statistically and practically significant treatment effects indicating improvements in math and reading achievement at the end of elementary school. In addition, the intervention appears to considerably narrow achievement gaps between English language learners and immigrant children proficient in English.

Heers, M., Ghysels, J., Groot, W., & Maassen van den Brink, H. (2015). Differentiated effects of community schooling on cognitive and social-emotional learning outcomes. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 26(3), 354-381. doi: 10.1080/09243453.2014.975138

Abstract: Community schools are becoming increasingly popular. They aim to enhance children’s educational performance by offering extended educational and social services. As community schools mainly focus on disadvantaged children, this study evaluates the effects of community schooling on the educational outcomes of these pupils. We focus on care pupils and pupils whose parents have a low educational attainment. We hypothesize that community schools are particularly beneficial to care pupils, namely, pupils with additional educational needs, and for pupils with parents with lower levels of educational attainment. Our analyses show that both pupil groups benefit in terms of reduced underachievement. The duration of community school attendance as such does not affect cognitive outcomes, but it proves beneficial to the educational achievement of both groups when the community school subsidy is taken into account as well. We show that different community school activities have partly contrary effects on care pupils and non-care pupils.

Lee-St. John, T. J., Walsh, M. E., Raczek, A. E., Vuilleumier, C. E., Foley, C., Heberle, A., Sibley, S., & Dearing, E. (2018). The long-term impact of systemic student support in elementary school: Reducing high school dropout. AERA Open, 4(3). doi:10.1177/2332858418799085

Abstract: Dropping out of high school has adverse consequences, including negative effects on employment, lifetime earnings, and physical health. Students often fail to complete high school for complex reasons that often manifest long before they reach high school. This study examines the link between participation in a comprehensive elementary school student support intervention and high school dropout. In this study, students who attended intervention elementary schools in a large, urban, high-poverty district during 2001–2014 (N=894) were compared to students who did not attend intervention schools (N=10,200). Likelihood of dropping out in grades 9–12 was estimated using propensity score-weighted Discrete Event History Analysis. Intervention students had approximately half the odds of dropout (p<.001); the probability of dropout for intervention was 9.2%, compared to 16.6% for non-intervention students. Individually tailored student support interventions during elementary school can lead to lasting and meaningful effects.

Parise, L. M., Corrin, W., Granito, K., Haider, Z., Somers, M., & Cerna, O. (2017). Two years of case management: Findings from the Communities in Schools random assignment evaluation. New York: MDRC.

Abstract: Recognizing that many students need additional support to succeed in school, Communities In Schools (CIS) works to provide and connect students with integrated support services to keep them on a path to graduation. CIS makes some services broadly available to all students at a school, and provides individual case management to those deemed most at risk of dropping out. This report presents the final implementation and impact findings from a two-year randomized controlled trial of CIS case management. The report describes the implementation and effects of CIS case management in 24 mostly urban, low-income secondary schools in two states during the 2013-2014 school year. The study’s implementation research finds the following: CIS site coordinators directly provide many services and also connect students with local partners and extant in-school services. While partner and in-school service providers help CIS meet students’ needs, it is challenging to monitor and evaluate their services’ quality. During the second year of the study, approximately 80 percent of the students assigned to case management received services. These students received services an average of 20 times, for an average of just over 18 hours. Students classified as being at high risk of dropping out received services at a lower rate than moderate-risk students. CIS case-managed students participated in support activities more frequently than non-case-managed students overall.

Pollack, C., Lawson, J. L., Raczek, A. E., Dearing, E., Walsh, M. E., & Kaufman, G. (2020, January 21). Long-term effects of integrated student support: An evaluation of an elementary school intervention on postsecondary enrollment and completion. doi:10.35542/osf.io/byadw

Abstract: This study examines the effect of an Integrated Student Support (ISS) intervention on postsecondary enrollment and completion for predominantly low-income and minority students. We use propensity score weighting to estimate the effect of receiving ISS during elementary school on postsecondary outcomes for 2009-2017 high school graduates from a large, urban district. Students who received ISS have higher probabilities of enrolling in and completing postsecondary education, and higher probabilities of enrolling in and graduating from four-year (versus two-year) institutions, than the comparison group. However, institution type differences may be sensitive to omitted variable bias. Together, results suggest ISS as an effective intervention to reduce barriers to postsecondary education and, thereby, to potentially reduce income- and race-based disparities in postsecondary outcomes.

Walsh, M. E., Madaus, G. F., Raczek, A. E., Dearing, E., Foley, C., An, C., ... & Beaton, A. (2014). A new model for student support in high-poverty urban elementary schools: Effects on elementary and middle school academic outcomes. American Educational Research Journal, 51(4), 704-737. doi: 10.3102/0002831214541669

Abstract: Efforts to support children in schools require addressing not only academic issues, but also out-of-school factors that can affect students’ ability to succeed. This study examined academic achievement of students participating in City Connects, a student support intervention operating in high-poverty elementary schools. The sample included 7,948 kindergarten to fifth-grade students in a large urban district during 1999–2009. School- and student-level treatment effects on report card grades and standardized test scores in elementary through middle school were estimated. Propensity score methods accounted for pre-intervention group differences. City Connects students demonstrated higher report card scores than comparisons and scored higher on middle school English language arts and mathematics tests. This study provides evidence for the value of addressing out-of-school factors that impact student learning.

Borman, T.H., Bos, J.M., O'Brien, B.C., Park, S.O., Liu, F. (2018). I3 BARR Validation Study: Cohorts 1 and 2, American Institutes for Research. 

Abstract: The Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR)  model is a comprehensive, strength-based approach to education that aims to improve achievement for all students through strengthening relationships, leveraging real-time student data, and capitalizing on student strengths. This report examines the findings of the first two years of an evaluation study of the BARR model. Based on two cohorts of schools, positive and statistically significant results were found with regards to students’ reading and math skills; the percentage of total credits students earned in ninth grade; the percentage of students passing all of their core courses; and student-reported measures of supportive relationships in school, student engagement, and teacher expectations. The study also found that teachers who engaged in the BARR model had more favorable perceptions and control of student behavior in the classroom. Moreover, BARR teachers were more willing to collaborate with their colleagues and use data to inform their instruction. It is further noted that because teachers were not randomly assigned to the BARR or control group, teacher-level differences cannot conclusively be attributed to implementing the model.

Heers, M., Van Klaveren, C., Groot, W., & Maassen van den Brink, H. (2016). Community Schools: What We Know and What We Need to Know. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 1016-1051. doi: 10.3102/0034654315627365

Abstract: Community schools offer children an integrated set of educational and social services, but sound scientific evidence on their effectiveness is lacking. Therefore, this study reviews the literature on community schools. First, we characterize community schools and find that their key activities are cooperating with other institutions, involving parents, and offering extracurricular activities. Second, we describe an exemplary community school for which causal evidence shows improved academic achievement. Third, we explore whether the three main activities of community schools influence academic performance, dropout, and risky behavior. Academic performance does not appear to be influenced by extracurricular activities. On the other hand, extracurricular activities do appear to be related to reduced dropout and risky behavior. In addition, there is a positive association of cooperation and parental involvement with academic achievement, and a negative correlation of these two factors with dropout and risky behavior. However, more causal evidence is needed before it can be concluded that community schools are effective.

Johnston, William R., John Engberg, Isaac M. Opper, Lisa Sontag-Padilla, and Lea Xenakis, Illustrating the promise of community schools: An assessment of the impact of the New York City community schools initiative. City of New York, 2020.

Abstract: The body of research suggesting that community school interventions, which integrate focus on academics, youth development, family support, health and social services, community development and partnerships between school and community providers, have the potential to improve student outcomes continues to grow. This report serves as an extension of a 2017 report on the variation of impact based on student- and school- level characteristics related to implementation of community school interventions in New York City schools. Here, positive impacts were found on student attendance, on-time grade progression in elementary and middle school, and on-time high school graduation rates. The community schools intervention also likely led to a reduction in disciplinary incidents in elementary and middle school. A positive impact on math achievement was found in the third year of the study, while a smaller and not statistically significant effect on reading achievement was found in all three years and in the previous two years for math achievement. Limited statistically significant evidence was found to support the notion that the community schools intervention supported improvements in school climate and culture. Moreover, no consistent pattern of differential impacts was found to suggest that particular sub-groups of students or program implementation factors influence the estimated effects of the intervention. The positive findings of the impact of the community-schools intervention in New York City suggest that the intervention holds promise to support student success in traditionally disadvantaged communities, particularly when efforts are focused and coordinated.

Moore, K. A., Caal, S., Carney, R., Lippman, L., Li, W., Muenks, K.,… Terzian, M. A. (2014). Making the grade: Assessing the evidence for integrated student supports. Washington, D.C.: Child Trends.

Abstract: This report summarizes the extant literature on Integrated Student Supports. Integrated student supports (ISS), sometimes referred to as integrated student services, represents an emerging field of practice that aims to address persistent disparities in educational achievement and attainment. ISS is a schoolbased approach to promoting students’ academic achievement and educational attainment by coordinating a seamless system of wraparound supports for the child, the family, and schools, to target student’s academic and non-academic barriers to learning. Programs that fall under an ISS umbrella have arisen in communities around the country. While several rigorous evaluations have been completed, the evaluation basis for integrated student supports as an approach can best be described as emerging. To date, it appears that ISS models can improve academic outcomes; but findings are mixed and tend to be stronger in quasi-experimental studies than in more rigorous random assignment evaluations. Quasi-experimental studies find promising results for school progress, attendance, reading, and math achievement. However, whether outcomes differ for children of varied ages and backgrounds has not received sufficient attention.

Moore, K.A., Lantos, H., Jones, R., Schindler, A., Belford, J., Sacks, V., (2018) Making the grade: A progress report and next steps for integrated student supports. Washington, D.C.: Child Trends. 

Abstract: In response to the codification of integrated student support into federal law and its growing appeal and implementation across the country, this report has been published as an updated review that synthesizes findings from relevant evaluations, research and theory, implementation reports, interviews, benefit/cost analyses, and analyses using the Social Genome Microsimulation model. Key findings from these resources highlight an increase in evidence supporting the effectiveness of ISS as well as the sustained need for further evidence. The report explains that while evaluation studies have resulted in a mix of positive and non-significant findings, there have been virtually no reports of negative effects of ISS model implementation. Evidence from a forecast of long-term outcomes and benefit/cost studies report that effective ISS interventions yield long term benefits for participants. The report further explains that the evidence base of the ISS model remains strongly grounded in child development research and theory, which supports five essential components of ISS models; however the critical identification of specific and concrete elements of effective practice continues to be slowly evolving. In examining these studies and resources, the authors underscore that adequate resources are required for high-quality program implementation and that a need for incorporating nonacademic outcomes as measures of impact to ensure that evaluations are congruent with the conceptual model of ISS.

Oakes, J., Maier, A., & Daniel, J. (2017). Community Schools: An evidence-based strategy for equitable school improvement. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.

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 https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/comm-schools-equitable-brief. Community schools vary in the programs they offer and the way they operate, depending on their local context. However, four features—or pillars—appear in most community schools: 1) Integrated student supports; 2) Expanded learning time and opportunities; 3) Family and community engagement; 4) Collaborative leadership and practices. Because ESSA requires that federally funded interventions be “evidence-based,” we reviewed both research on community schools as a comprehensive strategy and research on each of the four individual pillars of the strategy. We summarized the findings and evaluated the studies against ESSA’s criteria for “evidence-based” interventions, which define different tiers of evidence based on research methodology. We conclude from our review that the evidence base on well-implemented community schools and their component features provides a strong warrant for their potential contribution to school improvement.