FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
External Study Finds Citizen Schools Students Significantly Outperform Peers
National Nonprofit Spurs Positive Academic Outcomes and Successful Completion of High School
Boston, MA – August 31, 2010 – Policy Studies Associates (PSA) issued a final report today on a long-term, multi-phase evaluation of Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit that partners with middle schools in low-income communities to extend the learning day and increase student achievement. Among other positive findings, the study found that former Citizen Schools participants were more likely to achieve at higher rates in high school and more likely to graduate from high school on time compared to a group of matched nonparticipants. Achieving High School Graduation is the seventh and final report from the evaluation of the middle and high school experiences of former Citizen Schools participants in Boston. The report looks at the academic trajectories of youth who participated in the Citizen Schools 8th Grade Academy program, comparing former participants with matched nonparticipants and, when possible, with Boston Public School (BPS) students overall. In addition to significantly higher on-time graduation rates (71 percent compared to 59 percent), the report shows that Citizen Schools participants had higher math performance, higher English Language Arts scores on standardized tests and higher attendance rates in high school than their peers. The report tracked 448 students who participated in Citizen Schools in 8th grade and followed them for up to five years. As described in previous reports in the PSA evaluation series, the students were primarily from low-income families and a substantial concentration of students has special needs. Previous reports also noted that Citizen Schools participants were found to be at greater educational risk than BPS students overall prior to enrolling in Citizen Schools, based on their fourth grade performance on state assessment tests. By tenth grade, former participants significantly outperformed their BPS peers on math and ELA state assessment tests. “Overall, this final report shows that participation in Citizen Schools not only helps middle school participants make the transition to high school more successfully than their peers,” said Elizabeth Reisner, Principal and Co-founder of Policy Studies Associates and co-author of the report. “It also shows that program participation has long-term benefits, contributing to patterns of higher performance and the successful completion of high school.” The report comes at a time of concern for graduation rates nationally. According to a June report from Education Week and the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, the nation’s graduation rate has dropped for the second consecutive year with 1.3 million students failing to earn high school diplomas. President Obama has cited a “dropout crisis,” pledging billions of dollars in school-improvement funds focused on employing drastic turnaround measures in the poorest-performing schools. According to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “When 25 percent of our students – and almost 40 percent of our black and Hispanic students – fail to graduate high school on time, we know that too many of our schools are failing.” “Many kids need more learning time to master basic concepts, but school also needs to be more interesting. Citizen Schools provides real-world apprenticeships, small-group academic coaching, and early orientation to college and careers,” said Eric Schwarz, Citizen Schools Co-founder and CEO. “We still want to do a lot better, but we believe that this study shows that well-designed extended day programs can dramatically improve student engagement and achievement and help change the trajectories of students’ lives.” This spring, after twelve years of partnering with Citizen Schools in Boston, Fidelity Investments signed on as lead national partner of Citizen Schools’ 8th Grade Academy program. “Fidelity is thrilled with the final report from this study,” said Sheila Cavanaugh, senior vice president, Fidelity Investments. “Study results like these help establish Citizen Schools as a leader in the education field. We are excited to help them expand 8th Grade Academy to five new schools across the U.S. this fall.” Citizen Schools will work with Public/Private Ventures on a subsequent evaluation, which will build on the learning from the most current evaluation by including students from multiple states and employing a random assignment design. About Citizen Schools Founded in Boston in 1995, 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 after school. 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. Citizen Schools partners with 37 middle schools in seven states, including CA, MA, NC, NJ, NM, NY and TX.
About 8th Grade Academy 8th Grade Academy is Citizen Schools’ “capstone” program targeted to address the specific needs of eighth grade students transitioning from middle school to high school. Based on the successful model in Boston, Citizen Schools’ national 8th Grade Academy program helps students across the country attain the academic and real world skills they need to launch into high school, graduate, and succeed in college. About Policy Studies Associates Policy Studies Associates (PSA) conducts research in education and youth development. The studies PSA conducts for its clients span evaluation, policy analysis, and many other forms of systematic inquiry. PSA’s clients include federal, state, and local government agencies, foundations, and other organizations that aim to use high-quality data to make policy decisions. For more, www.policystudies.com.