KSSN is a unique community school initiative because it was one of the first to build in evaluation from the very beginning.
Through the ongoing evaluation process of its eight pilot schools in 2006, KSSN was able to refine its goals and services as it scaled up in the subsequent years. This initial, three-year evaluation was conducted by Public Policy Associates, Inc. In more recent years, KSSN has partnered with the Community Research Institute (CRI) at Grand Valley State University for its evaluation. Since 2001, CRI’s mission has been to empower communities with quality research and data. The institute collaborates with community organizations to access and gather explicit data, conducts original research to gather, analyze and interpret data in a range of socioeconomic and demographic conditions and trends, and applies advanced technology to gain new data and insights that improve organizational decision-making, grant writing, and program evaluation.
Current Evaluation Efforts
In 2011, funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, CRI and KSSN developed a five-year evaluation plan for the 15 existing, and all future, KSSN community schools. In year one, a formal logic model and evaluation measures were developed. As an organization, KSSN’s goals for its long-term impact are for students to live and learn in a safe, supportive environment, and to graduate ready for college, careers, and citizenship. These impacts can be achieved by meeting its short-term and long-term outcome goals (see KSSN Logic Model). The purpose of the current evaluation is to examine KSSN’s implementation, effectiveness, and social return on investment. The evaluation design is a mixed methods approach with both quantitative and qualitative data collection. Data collection methods include conducting interviews and focus groups, administering surveys, and gathering administrative records from the Kent ISD database and network180 data.
Data is also gathered from community school coordinators' records. When KSSN launched, coordinators used Excel spreadsheets to track their activities. As KSSN matured, these spreadsheets evolved into Access-based databases, but the data collection process varied between coordinators, depending on the partner agency’s database setup. When the coordinators merged under KSSN after its incorporation in February 2014, CRI developed a new, web-based database. Coordinators are now able to uniformly track longitudinal data for each of their school sites. Coordinators are required to update the database on an ongoing basis, and the KSSN program manager pulls monthly reports to provide coordinators with ongoing performance feedback.
KSSN is evaluated at the individual, family, school, and community system levels. At the individual and family level, coordinators are able to track and measure the activities conducted to reduce barriers and increase motivation to learning, such as the number of students and families who receive services and the types of services they receive, as well as family attendance at school-wide events and parent-teacher conferences. Administrative data is used to track students’ progress over time to determine if accessing KSSN resources is related to attendance, academic achievement, behavior and discipline issues, and graduation rates. Surveys, interviews and focus groups with students and parents are used to determine their perceptions of their physical, emotional and mental health needs, motivation and interest in learning and engaging at school, parent perceptions of communication with teachers and school staff, satisfaction and engagement in school events, and family support of student education at home.
Providing family and student supports and resources is designed to give the teachers more time to teach and engage with students and families, as well as improve teacher job satisfaction. Teacher surveys and interviews are conducted to evaluate their perceptions of classroom disruptions, quality of teaching time, and levels of family engagement. Coordinators are also required to log their efforts of recruiting and maintaining community partners, and track the involvement and activity of school teams (for example, attendance teams, community school leadership teams, child study or academic teams) as a way to assess coordination and collaboration of services in the school. Administrative data is aggregated at the school level to assess the overall impact of the KSSN initiative at each school.
Finally, at the community system level, coordinators track the use of the school building by recording the types of specific programming and events for students and families, along with their levels of attendance. To assess whether there is increased family awareness of community agencies and greater access to community-based resources, coordinators document the number and types of referrals and families’ use of resources. Data from network180 is analyzed to see if there is a higher level of access to services in KSSN schools as compared to communities without KSSN in the schools by race and ethnicity, socio-economic status, and other demographic variables.
Resources & Reports
Kent School Services Network: Comparison of KSSN and Non-KSSN Schools (CRI, 2013)
The Link Between School Environment and Attendance: Kent School Services Network (CRI, 2013)
Chronic Early Absenteeism: Prevalence and MEAP Performance in Kent ISD (CRI, 2011)
Findings from the Evaluation of the KSSN Initiative: Pilot Study Powerpoint (Public Policy Associates, Inc., 2009)