Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Integrated Student Support Makes a Difference

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Integrated Student Support Makes a Difference

Article excerpt

North Carolina's Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District faces many of the same challenges as other urban districts. More than half of its students are considered economically disadvantaged, many of its neighborhoods have experienced a dramatic rise in concentrated poverty, and the region has seen a large influx of immigrant children. Despite these challenges, however, graduation rates for students from low-income families have grown to 85.2% in 2016 from just 52% in 2009.

Then-Supt. Ann Clark attributes the gains to a district-wide focus on working with individual students to make sure they have a plan for life after high school and a course load that will get them there (Helms, 2016). "This has truly been a village effort," Clark said.

The district also relies on a long-standing partnership with Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, a nonprofit organization providing integrated student supports to 7,000 students in 45 elementary, middle, and high schools. More than two-thirds of the students enrolled in the CIS program come from poverty or low-income families. CIS takes a case-management approach to working with individual students and their families to address emotional, behavioral, and academic concerns, providing a wide range of supports such as academic tutoring, career counseling, enrichment activities, and referrals to community organizations for health services.

Central to the success of CIS is its ability to tap into a vast network of community partnerships to help students and families. Partners include organizations such as United Way, faith-based organizations, civic groups, philanthropic, and corporate organizations, and relationships with hundreds of volunteers. CIS in Charlotte-Mecklenburg has an annual budget of $7.5 million and is funded by the school district as well as county, state, and federal governments, corporations, foundations, and individuals. …

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