At-Risk YouthSchool-Community Collaborations Focus on Improving Student Outcomes Gao ID: GAO-01-66 October 10, 2000
This report focuses on school and community collaborations for improving student outcomes for at-risk youth. To better provide the support needed for these students to succeed in school and beyond, some schools and school districts have intensified their collaboration with businesses, community agencies, and other neighborhood organizations. These efforts, which go substantially beyond the usual links between schools and other agencies or organizations, go by such names as "extended-service schools," "full- service schools," "community schools," or, more generally, "school-community initiatives." The federal government plays a role in these initiatives because of the funding and support it provides through various programs serving youths who are disadvantaged or at risk of school failure. Schools with a large number of disadvantaged students often struggle to both educate their students and prepare them for further education or a career. The goals of the school-community initiatives GAO reviewed center on helping students achieve in school and readying them for life after graduation. Several officials GAO spoke with said that it is difficult to measure the success of these programs for at-risk youth. Officials cited the lack of funds and the complex nature of educational programs as reasons for the lack of rigorous evaluations. However, several initiatives are under way to collect information on student progress and behavior.