District and school leaders at four Title I elementary schools in Canyons School District (CSD) initiated a comprehensive school improvement effort in 2012 with the support of the Utah State Office of Education (USOE). The Ohio Community Model for School Improvement was selected as their expanded school improvement framework with the goal of ensuring that all students have the right “conditions” in place to foster learning, healthy development, and success in school. Leaders at the four CSD schools first identified gaps in the resources available to their students and families. They then brought together key community partners to strategically develop the programs and infrastructure necessary to address unmet needs.
The CAYCI team was contracted by USOE to provide technical and evaluative support to CSD in order to garner learning that might inform statewide efforts. Specifically, USOE identified four priorities:
- Explore school-level outcomes associated with the adoption and implementation of the community schools framework;
- Examine outcomes and impacts resulting from specific programs and strategies (i.e., tutoring, school based behavioral health, etc.);
- Identify facilitators and barriers/challenges that foster and/or prevent the successful adoption and implementation; and
- Make recommendations for CSD, other local educational agencies, and USOE as they adopt and implement innovative models to support student learning and development.
The CSD evaluation, informed in part by by the CAYCI School Experience Surveys, found encouraging evidence of school improvement, evidenced by movement on indicators such as absenteeism (decreased) and teachers’ perceptions of the learning support system (improved). Individual strategies encompassed in the overall Initiative had demonstrable impact as well, for example with increases in the number of youth accessing school-based mental health services and afterschool programs. More about the successes and lessons learned through the experiences of CSD is available in the Final Evaluation Report and Executive Summary as well as the brief about school-based behavioral health outcomes, specifically.