Building Bigger

CIS of Mid-America in Kansas City Schools

Surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life

According to the U.S. Department of Education, “active collaboration within and beyond schools can positively affect students’ perception of caring adults in their lives and attitudes toward education” (ED COVID-19 Handbook Vol. 2, 2021). In the wake of the pandemic, student engagement is historically low affecting attendance rates, academic performance, and the social-emotional development of our young people. Communities In Schools (CIS) of Mid-America is uniquely positioned to partner with schools to re-engage students in learning. CIS Student Support Coordinators are fully integrated into seven partner schools in Kansas City, Missouri. This vantage point allows them to build trust with students, families, and school staff and assess the needs of individual students and gaps in services at the school level. The strong partnership between CIS of Mid-America and its partner schools will prove essential in reversing the academic and non-academic impact of the pandemic.

The CIS Model is an evidenced-based multi-tiered approach to Integrated Student Supports (ISS). Research shows that ISS can improve school climate; increase student attendance, math achievement, and overall GPA; and decrease student grade retention and dropout rates (Moore et al., 2017). The first tier of the CIS Model consists of whole-school supports that promote a positive school climate and combat school-level risk factors such as student/parent disengagement, systematic barriers, and access to basic needs. Tiers two and three are targeted supports delivered to a caseload of students who present with academic, attendance, and/or behavior/social-emotional concerns. Tier two supports are provided in a small group setting, and tier three is one-to-one support focused on relationship-building. SSCs are committed to doing whatever it takes to help students break the cycles of poverty, exclusion, and discrimination, preventing them from seeing the potential inside themselves.

CIS of Mid-America serves more than 2,600 students in public and charter schools throughout Kansas City, where 92 percent of students live in poverty and 94 percent are students of color. Our students are underserved, under-resourced, and underrepresented, but they are also resilient, driven, and motivated. During the 2020-21 school year, CIS of Mid-America recorded 9,889 instances of students and families participating in CIS programs. Caseload students made significant improvements toward their academic, attendance, behavior, and social-emotional goals. Further, 100 percent of caseload students stayed in school, and 93 percent were promoted to the next grade level. The graduation rate for caseload seniors was 86 percent compared to 74 percent for Kansas City Public Schools. Together with our students and community partners, CIS of Mid-America will create an equitable path to prosperity, health, and confidence for all students in Kansas City and beyond.

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