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Jan 19 -- The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Department of Education (ED), invites comment by March 20, 2023 regarding its proposed Evaluation of Full-Service Community Schools: Early Implementation Data Collection.

The Full-Service Community Schools program seeks to improve student outcomes by helping schools expand and enrich learning opportunities, provide integrated student support services, strengthen family and community engagement, and adopt collaborative leadership practices that include families and community organizations. Congress has invested $180 million in Full-Service Community Schools grants and mandated an evaluation of the program.

This package requests approval to conduct a survey of Full-Service Community Schools 2022 grantees. These data will be used to study the early implementation of the Full-Service Community Schools program.

The Full-Service Community Schools program has served 84 grantees and nearly 300 schools since 2008, but there has not been a national evaluation of the program. Beyond the federal grant program, the broader community schools approach has gained attention as a promising approach for improving outcomes for students and families, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic (Long 2020). As the number of children and families served by community schools – and by the Full-Service Community Schools program in particular – continues to grow (Johnston et al. 2020), there is an increasing need to gather evidence about how the program is being implemented, including such issues as the extent to which grantees are assessing community assets and needs, developing new school-based services and instructional approaches to address those needs, and implementing collaborative leadership practices that involve students, parents, and community partners. These are core components of the community schools model thought to be essential to successful implementation and downstream improvements in student outcomes. Providing information on these components will benefit the Department staff overseeing the program, and inform Congress and potential future grantees about the initial steps needed to implement a new set of community school initiatives through the program.

This survey is particularly timely. Assessing which activities take place during the first year of the FY2022 grants will provide valuable information to the Department about the initial planning process for these grants, such as the amount of planning time required before new services can be implemented in grant-supported community schools. Collecting data in the first year of grant implementation will also identify any important changes grantees have made to the plans outlined in their grant applications, and provide information to the Department about which community school services are being supported with grant funds. For example, this will support the Department’s monitoring of topics such as the availability of grant-supported enrichment programs in summer 2023 that have been designed to address pandemic-related interruptions in learning. This information will also inform decisions about the scope and timing of data collection activities for the future implementation study of FY2023 grantees: for example, understanding how much time grantees require for planning will inform decisions about when to conduct a follow-up survey measuring changes in community school services.  
 
IES contracted with Mathematica and its partners—Social Policy Research Associates and the Learning Policy Institute—to conduct this survey. The survey is designed to gather information about grantees’ progress in completing important planning milestones during the first year of the grant, and assess the extent to which grantees have made any major changes to the set of activities proposed in their grant applications. The survey will also assess whether grant funds are being used in ways that are a priority for the Department, such as delivering new school-based services or implementing summer programs related to learning and mental health.
 
Full-Service Community Schools Program (FSCS)https://oese.ed.gov/offices/office-of-discretionary-grants-support-services/school-choice-improvement-programs/full-service-community-schools-program-fscs/
Draft data collection instruments and technical documentation: https://www.regulations.gov/search?filter=ED-2023-SCC-0017
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-00939

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