In the spring of 2011, Jose Melo, a fifth grader at the Dever McCormack School in Dorchester, MA, took his first apprenticeships with Citizen Schools: It’s All About Gummy Bears and Bootstrap. In the midst of learning the science behind what makes gummy bears gummy and what it takes to program a video game, he discovered an appetite for science and math. By the time he graduated from eighth grade three years later, Jose had completed a total of twelve apprenticeships through Citizen Schools - all of which had a focus on STEM.
WGBH News' Adam Reilly (@reillyadam) reports on an innovative program which gets involved with middle schoolers early in order to ensure they're ready for the challenges of high school.
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Citizen Schools and Fidelity Investments ® Team Up to Help 8th Grade Students Be Better Prepared for High School and Beyond
National Partnership Will Expand 8th Grade Academy Program
BOSTON, April 20, 2010 – Citizen Schools, one of the nation’s leading education programs that partners with middle schools to extend the learning day with innovative academic and apprenticeship programs, and Fidelity Investments®, one of the world's largest providers of financial services, today announced a new collaborative educational partnership to help 8th grade students across the United States stay in school and give them unique opportunities for college and career exposure.
Based on the successful model founded in Boston, Citizen Schools’ national 8th Grade Academy program helps students attain the basic and real world skills they need to transition to high school, graduate, and succeed in college. Students spend afternoons and Saturdays doing activities specifically designed to meet the needs of 8th grade students, from high school preparation and navigation skills to college visits and apprenticeships taught by professionals from across a range of sectors. The program currently operates at 27 schools in 14 cities nationwide.
Fidelity’s support, which will include employee volunteer, monetary and in-kind support, will enable Citizen Schools to expand 8th Grade Academy to new sites, including five new schools and three new markets (New York City, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM) in the fall of 2010. Fidelity volunteers will participate in program activities, such as apprenticeship teaching and resume writing and interview skills coaching, in the new markets, as well as 8th Grade Academy programs in greater Boston, Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte, NC and Newark, NJ, near where Fidelity has offices. Fidelity’s support will also help Citizen Schools deepen its impact on students through ongoing program evaluation and innovation.
“Fidelity is thrilled to continue our more than decade-long partnership with Citizen Schools and focus our efforts around 8th Grade Academy,” said Sheila C. Cavanaugh, senior vice president of Community Relations for Fidelity Investments. “We know from the experts that helping middle school students make the connection between school and the ‘real world’ can have a tremendous impact on their long-term success. Mentors can also play a big role, by exposing them to all of the possibilities for their future education and career paths. Fidelity wants to help them find their way and stay on track.”
The 8th Grade Academy partnership is the first national initiative between Fidelity® and Citizen Schools. It is an extension of a twelve-year partnership between the two organizations in Boston, where both companies are headquartered.
“We are inspired by the work that Fidelity employees have already taken on through their apprenticeships and other activities over the years and are honored to even further embed that talent and passion into our work with 8th grade students nationwide,” said Emily McCann, president of Citizen Schools. “Fidelity and their employees are playing a significant role in setting thousands of students across the country on a path towards educational success.”
Since the relationship began in 1998, Fidelity has engaged hundreds of employee volunteers in educational activities through Citizen Schools programs. They have directly impacted several hundred students in more than 10 schools throughout the country. Specific activities include:
Organizing employee volunteers for Citizen Schools’ signature semester-long apprenticeships which provide after school learning opportunities for students in various trades Leading individual company-sponsored hands-on learning opportunities for middle school children in the Citizen Schools program on topics ranging from music to financial literacy Proactive involvement in creating teaching curriculum that is currently taught at multiple Citizen Schools locations across the US Design and implementation of large-scale service projects at middle school campuses across Boston Staffing Citizen Schools Alumni Services program events to help 8th Grade Academy graduates and their families with their transition to high school, college, and beyond
The company will continue to broadly support Citizen Schools program activities for students in all middle school grades (6-8), in addition to the new 8th Grade Academy partnership.
About Citizen Schools Founded in Boston in 1995, Citizen Schools is a leading national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for low-income children across the country. The organization uniquely mobilizes thousands of adult volunteers to help improve student achievement by teaching skill-building apprenticeships. 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 currently operates at 37 middle schools in seven states, serving 4,400 students and engaging 4,000 volunteers nationwide.
Citizen Schools has been named as a national winner of Fast Company magazine's Social Capitalist Award three times and was chosen as a winner of the Skoll Foundation's Award for Social Entrepreneurship. Learn more about the organization’s programs, results, and plans to expand the learning day at www.citizenschools.org.
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 attain the basic and real world skills they need to launch into high school, graduate, and succeed in college.
Recent analysis of the program concluded that it is succeeding in moving a group of low-income, educationally at-risk participants towards its desired outcomes of successful high school completion, advancement to college, and full participation in the civic and economic life of their communities. For example, the study showed that six in ten (59 percent) of students in the Boston 8th Grade Academy program selected high-quality, college-track high schools, compared to only 28 percent of their matched peers; and nearly nine in ten (87 percent) of Citizen Schools’ students graduated from high school in four years, compared to a citywide on-time graduation rate of 59 percent. In addition, nearly all (95 percent) of the program‘s high school graduates enrolled in college. In 2010, the 8th Grade Academy program will operate in 32 schools in 17 cities in California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas.
About Fidelity Investments Fidelity Investments is one of the world's largest providers of financial services, with assets under administration of more than $3.3 trillion, including managed assets of $1.5 trillion, as of March 31, 2010. Founded in 1946, the firm is a leading provider of investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, benefits outsourcing and many other financial products and services to more than 20 million individuals and institutions, as well as through 5,000 financial intermediary firms. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit www.fidelity.com.
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