OPINION: Community schools have great promise, and we should make sure they produce lasting results

When I was a community school director in Queens, New York, I designed a mentoring program for 10 percent of my chronically absent students. I enlisted a handful of volunteer staff members to serve as mentors, and provided weekly attendance data about their mentees and activities to use during student check-ins.

These touch points helped students develop trusting relationships with staff members, who helped connect students with additional resources and enrichment opportunities. Attendance rates increased for 60 percent of these students, and this trend held across each six-week mentoring cycle. We designed a similar program during the pandemic, and students who had these check-ins attended hybrid school more frequently than their grade-level peers who did not.

On a larger scale, the Oakland Unified School District, which considers itself a community schools district, uses a centralized data platform accessible to administrators, teachers, nurses, afterschool staff and community school managers, so that all of the adults supporting a student are connected and equipped with the necessary data about that young person.

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