Students spend only 20 percent of their waking hours in school, much of which is focused on academics. But we know academics are only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to a student’s success in life. For all students to thrive, we must consider the whole child. This means nurturing the strengths and addressing the needs of each student beyond their time in the classroom. To do this, schools need a system to understand each student’s holistic development and connect them to the school- and community-based resources necessary to help them thrive. Known as a system of integrated student support (ISS), this network of care and resources can range from tutoring and extracurricular activities, to physical and mental health care, to food banks or employment assistance.
Our Systemic Student Support Academy (S3A) works with schools and districts to create this system. The academy’s three-year model helps schools establish a proactive approach to evaluate and create a support plan for every single student. By focusing on every child, schools can ensure that no student falls through the cracks and identify trends in a classroom, school, or district. This can provide critical information to help address equity and inclusion at all levels of our education system.
Participating teams spend the first year evaluating each student in at least one pilot classroom. They then scale this process school-wide over the following years using continuous improvement tools and practices. Our S3A team provides specific guidance on this process, based on research by Boston College Lynch School of Education and Development’s Center for Optimized Student Support, and offers training through large (currently virtual) group convenings, asynchronous learning materials, and individualized support to help each school tailor the Academy offerings to fit their school’s unique needs.
The academy is co-led by the Rennie Center and the Boston College Lynch School of Education and Development's Center for Optimized Student Support (COSS).
The S3 Academy is designed to support school-based teams. Each team should include at least 3 members:
- A school administrator with decision-making authority (to act as the team's lead)
- A student support-related staff member (e.g., school counselor, school social worker, school adjustment counselor)
- A teacher or general educator
For districts that intend to have multiple schools participate, a district-level staff member must also be a member. For schools that join independently, there will be 1-2 meetings for which we ask a district-level staff member to attend.
While student support is critical at all levels, at this time the Academy is best suited to support grades K-8. Massachusetts schools of any size, location, or general demographics may apply to participate.