For many students—especially those facing challenges with academic or social-emotional learning, behavioral or physical health, or income insecurity—classroom instruction is not enough to ensure success in school. To create schools that fully support students, we need to find ways to break down barriers to learning by building a system to address these barriers with school- and community-based resources. Known as a system of integrated student support, these resources range from enrichment and extracurricular opportunities to linking students and families to a broader set of services, such as physical and mental health care, family counseling, food banks, or employment assistance.
To help local school districts build their own integrated systems of student support, we are teaming up with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Boston College’s Center for Optimized Student Support on the Systemic Student Support (S3) Academy. Now in its second year, this program brings together 12 districts from across the state to learn about evidence-based approaches to improving outcomes by connecting students to the resources they need to succeed.
The members of this academy share the goals of understanding the core components of integrated student support and how they work together; self-assessing current practices, processes, and resources; learning about evidence-based models and strategies; and developing and executing a plan for advancing a system of integrated student support. By working together as a network, they are learning from one another and multiplying their ideas, expertise, resources, and knowledge.
By the end of the year, participants will be implementing an approach that can be embedded in the ongoing work of schools and districts to create safe and supportive environments in which every student is getting the right supports at the right time.
The participating districts for the 2019-20 school year are: Belchertown, Fall River, Holyoke, Hudson, Melrose, Nantucket, Nashoba, Shrewsbury, Somerville, Taunton, and Wachusett.