The Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) Community Schools initiative aims to support students, their families, and the broader school community by creating partnerships among district schools and community-based organizations and providers. In 2016, the school district created a Community Schools policy and established sustaining funding for these schools, in collaboration with local, state, and federal entities. Through an application process, PPS selected five schools to participate in the initiative.
AIR conducted an evaluation of how the five schools implemented the initiative during the 2018-2019 school year, the first year of implementation. The goals of the evaluation were to:
- Assess the fidelity of implementation, by capturing how each school implemented community schools standards;
- Document best practices for implementation, including strategies for garnering buy-in and for engaging with community members; and
- Understand factors for sustainability and scale-up, including what infrastructure is necessary at the school level and how the district can support schools.
To address these goals, AIR relied on data from multiple measures and sources, including:
- Qualitative data gathered from interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders;
- Data from observations of afterschool activities using the Youth Program Quality Assessment; and
- Program documents, including monthly reports and service updates, site plans, and needs assessment reports.
AIR worked with leaders of the initiative to interpret findings, identify promising practices in implementation and areas in need of support, and establish next steps to support future implementation efforts. As a result of this evaluation, the school district implemented a Community Schools Comprehensive Plan and established a continuous improvement process.