New Reports Address Important Issues for Student and Community Well-Being

Last Updated: October 29, 2013

This article appeared in the October 2013 Rural Policy Matters.

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Rural dropout prevention

In Dropout Prevention: Challenges and Opportunities in Rural Settings, Allan Porowski and Caitlin Howley provide an overview of key issues affecting rural high school graduation rates with a focus on how rural communities can leverage their own strengths to reduce the likelihood that students will leave school early.

The ICF International white paper identifies specific challenges often faced by rural schools—limited funding, declining enrollment, very long bus rides, qualified professional staff. It also suggests several positive characteristics—school community collaboration, family engagement, adult mentors/advocates—as resources for keeping vulnerable students in school through graduation.

The paper notes that for some rural students “the choice to complete high school and attend college is also a choice to move away from home permanently.” Students who want to remain in their home communities need support to understand how high school completion will provide them with more life choices. The paper also notes the dearth of rural-specific research to support evidence-based programs in rural schools.

You can read the report at

Full service community schools

Two reports from the Children’s Aid Society offer a compelling case for the full-service community school model. Community schools provide coordinated social, health, and educational services to children and their families and are tailored to local circumstances. They are founded in the idea that focusing on the strengths of the community as well as the education of children can create a “web of support" for the optimal development of the community's children.

Measuring Social Return on Investment for Community Schools: A Practical Guide and Measuring Social Return on Investment for Community Schools: A Case Study, both authored by Laura Martinez and Cheryl D. Hayes, document the development and application of a Social Return on Investment method for determining the economic value of the community school model.

The case study finds that each dollar invested in the case study’s elementary school delivered $10.30 in social value. In the case study’s high school, each dollar invested delivered $14.80 in social value.

While these values are specifically calculated for the very urban context of the case study schools, the dramatic results underscore the benefit to children of wise investments that strengthen individual life opportunities as well as the overall well-being of local communities.

Learn more about the Community School model:

The Rural Solution: How Community Schools Can Reinvigorate Rural Education, Doris Terry Williams, Rural School and Community Trust:

Coalition for Community Schools

National Center for Community Schools

Communities in Schools

Federation for Community Schools

U.S. Department of Education Full Service Community Schools program


Read more from the October 2013 Rural Policy Matters.