Contact: Stacey Gilbert Nee, Citizen Schools, cell 617-309-7133, firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nonprofit Organization Partners with Schools Nationwide to Increase Student Achievement by Lengthening the School Day
Schools Achieve Impressive Proficiency Gains on Standardized Tests in Math and English Language Arts
Boston, MA – September 26, 2012 – Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to lengthen the school day for children in low-income communities, announced today the results of the organization’s second year of a three-year national expanded learning time (ELT) pilot initiative. The goal of the national ELT initiative is to transform partner schools by adding dramatically more learning time to the school day, more skilled staff and volunteers to support teachers and administrators, as well as more relevant content and learning opportunities that engage students and get them excited about school.
Before ELT, Citizen Schools’ partner schools, on average, made no or minimal progress on building student proficiency on state standardized tests. Several of these schools were, prior to the ELT initiative, chronically low-performing schools designated as “turnaround” schools by their respective state and district. The U.S. Department of Education standard for successful school turnaround is an increase of 10 percentage points in proficiency within three years. The Citizen Schools ELT cumulative gain in proficiency over years 1 and 2 of the ELT initiative is 10.4 percentage points, meeting the standard for successful school turnaround in just two years.
In year one of Citizen Schools’ ELT initiative (school year 2010-2011), 10 partner schools in five states partnered with Citizen Schools to achieve an average increase in Math proficiency of 8.3 percentage points and an increase in English Language Arts (ELA) of 2.3 percentage points – yielding an average of 5.3 percentage points for the core subject areas of Math and ELA combined, significantly higher than the proficiency gains of peer grade-level students in the school districts where partner schools exist, and equal to or above leading national school turnaround initiatives.
Year two (school year 2011-2012) results, released today, show 19 partner schools in six states building upon year one gains. Across the 15 campuses for which achievement data have been released publicly by their respective states, Citizen Schools ELT again drove substantial proficiency gains. In year 2, the average Math proficiency gain is 4.1 percentage points and 6.0 percentage points in ELA – yielding an average gain of 5.1 percentage points for Math and ELA combined. Thus, the cumulative gain over years 1 and 2 is 10.4 percentage points, meeting the standard for successful school turnaround. Citizen Schools is committed to continued school improvement to close the achievement gap, and set at the outset a three-year national target of 15 percentage points, an ambitious target that no national turnaround efforts have yet achieved.
“We know that expanded learning time done right is an effective strategy for helping schools and students succeed,” said Eric Schwarz, co-founder and CEO of Citizen Schools. “The latest data that we are seeing in terms of the tremendous results at our partner schools confirm that the hard work we are doing every day in deep partnership with our committed school partners is working. With the additional investments of district and corporate partners, including our newest national partner, the Walmart Foundation, we are poised to reach our long-term goal of closing the achievement and opportunity gaps for our students.”
Only a small number of national initiatives have achieved similar positive results and both the White House and the U.S. Department of Education have recognized Citizen Schools as a national example. In fact, this announcement comes at a time of great momentum for longer school days nationally as both President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have consistently called for longer days as part of their ambitious effort to reform the nation’s schools. Districts across the country are focused on turning around our most challenged schools and more school leaders are turning to longer days as a strategy for school improvement.
During the expanded hours at schools that partner with Citizen Schools, students receive academic support, participate in “academic league” aimed at raising proficiency in Math and ELA, build key 21st century skills such as oral communication and leadership, and learn about what it takes to succeed in school and college. In addition, students sign up for “apprenticeships” led by professionals from the local community. These volunteers work under the supervision of Citizen Schools staff to teach students about a wide variety of professions and increase student leadership skills. National partners that invest funds and employee volunteer hours include Bank of America, Cognizant, Fidelity Investments, Google, and the Walmart Foundation.
”Spending extra time now to help students further develop literary and math skills not only raises grades and test scores, it helps them realize their full potential and achieve more than they may have thought possible — in and out of school,” said Michelle Gilliard, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. “In 2011 the Walmart Foundation donated more than $50 million to fund educational initiatives that make a difference in the lives of our nation’s children.”
In the 2012-2013 school year, Citizen Schools will partner with 32 schools in eight states to serve over 5,200 students. Twenty-two of those schools are participating in year three of the organization’s national ELT initiative.
About Citizen Schools
Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for low income children across the country. Citizen Schools uniquely mobilizes thousands of adult volunteers to help improve student achievement by teaching skill-building apprenticeships. The organization’s programs blend these real-world learning projects with rigorous academic and leadership development activities, preparing students in the middle grades for success in high school, college, the workforce, and civic life.
Founded in Boston in 1995, Citizen Schools has grown into a national network of thirty-two “campuses” – middle school partner sites – in low-income communities across eight states. For more information, visit www.citizenschools.org.