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Citation:Shaul, M. S. (2000). At-risk youth: School-community collaborations focus on improving student outcomes (Report to the Honorable Charles B. Rangel, House of Representatives). Washington, DC: United States General Accounting Office. ED447239.

This report, prepared for Congress by the U.S. General Accounting Office, identifies common characteristics and current issues in the field of school-community collaborations. The review is national in scope. The author reports most of the initiatives studied could point to improvements in student outcomes, such as better attendance or higher graduation rates, but could not necessarily link the improvements directly to the school-community initiatives. Most of the initiatives studied had not been rigorously evaluated to determine their effect on student achievement and success. The authors suggest that the school-community initiatives differed from traditional school programs in that they combined three strategies: (1) developing innovative and nontraditional approaches that emphasize academic achievement, such as extended after-school instruction; (2) creating links to future employment opportunities; and (3) blending community services, such as mental health, social services, and recreation into the school environment. They also note that school-community initiatives typically strive for a set of common elements including: (1) services and activities that are tailored to community needs and flexible enough to change as the community changes; (2) parent participation and individual attention from caring adults are highly valued and encouraged; (3) support for the family is seen as integral to improving outcomes for children and youth; (4) parents, students, community members and other stakeholders play an active role in guiding policy and practices through such entities as advisory committees; and (5) continuing emphasis is placed on the importance of collaboration and communication among school and community partners. Data were collected through a variety of methods, including interviews, reviews of the literature by an expert panel, and site visits. This short report is a scan of the field of school-community collaboration.

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