A Project of the Child Trends News Service Supported by the National Science Foundation

Making the Grade: Integrated Student Supports

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Integrated student support (ISS) programs help connect struggling students with housing, health and dental care, meals, and tutoring. Several years ago, researchers studied what happens when a school addresses the nonacademic needs of its students, and a new report suggests that ISS programs are beginning to make the grade in this regard.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic: strong skills in the three R’s used to be one way parents and educators predicted a student’s school potential. Kids not hitting the mark might have been scheduled for extra academic help. Social psychologist Kristin Moore, PhD, and Child Trends researchers say there might be a better way.

“I wanted to look at a model which is called integrated student supports, which goes beyond kind of the traditional notion that you can tutor kids into school success,” Moore told Ivanhoe.

Instead, researchers are examining school programs that assess students’ needs, then connect them and their families with services like medical care or housing or mental health counseling.

Moore continued, “They may need emotional support. They may need to improve their behavior. And all of those things can undermine your educational success.”

Social scientists reviewed 19 ISS studies and found evidence that the ISS model may help increase high school graduation rates and may offer a strong return on investment to society. For every dollar invested in ISS, a return of at least $3 and up to $14 can be expected—with students having less grade repetition and fewer problem behaviors. Moore said that, over the past few years, ISS programs have been starting in every region of the country.

Moore said, “They have different names. Sometimes they have no names at all, just a principal that understands a kid can’t do well in school unless their other needs are met.”

There are now ISS programs in all 50 states. Researchers indicate that ISS programs are most likely to operate in schools that serve a large number of students from low-income families and could help reduce educational disparities.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

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