Chapter 9

Community Schools in ESSA State Plans

A student drawing.


Following are examples of states that have included a community schools strategy in their ESSA State Plans:


Date approved by DOE: 1/19/2018

Hawaii’s ESSA Plan includes community schools as a potential evidence- and research-based strategy for school improvement. This discussion is included in a section about rigorous interventions for schools that fail to meet the state’s exit criteria.

The plan also describes community schools’ six-part strategic approach as: “1) Curricula that are engaging, culturally relevant, and challenging; 2) Emphasis on high-quality teaching, not on high-stakes testing; 3) Wraparound supports such as health care, eye care, and social and emotional services that support academics; 4) Positive discipline practices, such as restorative justice and social and emotional learning supports; 5) Authentic parent and community engagement; and 6) Inclusive school leadership.” Pg. 63.

Study: Center for Popular Democracy, Coalition for Community Schools, and Southern Education Foundation, Community Schools: Transforming Struggling Schools into Thriving Schools, Feb. 2016.
Website: Coalition for Community Schools:


Date approved by DOE: 8/30/2017

Illinois’ ESSA Plan lists “Full-Service Community School Programs” as a use for Title IV, Part F funds to, along with several other initiatives funded under Title IV, “coordinate state-level strategies in order to reduce exclusionary discipline, implement evidence-based behavioral health awareness training programs, expand access for school-based counseling and behavioral health programs, and improve outcomes of children living in the most distressed communities.” Pg. 106.

The plan also explains that the Illinois State Board of Education “acknowledges the impact of the community school model as it embeds family engagement as a core pillar for school and student success. Community schools strengthen opportunities for schools and partners from across the community to come together to educate and support students and families in building thriving communities.” Pg. 109.

Report: Linda Darling-Hammond, Song Bae, Channa M. Cook-Harvey, Livia Lam, Charmaine Mercer, Anne Podolsky, and Elizabeth Leisy Stosich, Pathways to New Accountability Through the Every Student Succeeds Act (Palo Alto: Learning Policy Institute, 2016).


Date approved by DOE: 1/16/2018

In describing the technical assistance the state will provide to each LEA serving a significant number or percentage of schools identified for comprehensive or targeted support and improvement, Maryland’s ESSA Plan explains the Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement: A Systems Framework (2017) developed by the Center for School Turnaround at WestEd. The plan states that “[t]his framework embraces and expands the concept of community schools by identifying actions at the State, local school system, and school level for community involvement in school improvement.” Pg. 39

Framework: The Center on School Turnaround. (2017). Four Domains for Rapid School Improvement: A Systems Framework (The Center for School Turnaround at WestEd), San Francisco, CA: WestEd.


Date approved by DOE: 9/21/2017

In the section discussing how the SEA will ensure that the unique educational needs of migratory children are addressed, Massachusetts’ ESSA Plan explains that “[c]ollaborative efforts have been made to support migrant students[’] transition from high school with school districts, community-based organizations, and local colleges.” Community schools are listed as an example of a partnership established by the [Massachusetts Migrant Education Program] staff for not only this population but for all migrant students and parents.” Pg. 104.



Date approved by DOE: 1/10/2018

Minnesota’s ESSA Plan lists “Full Services Community Schools Grants” under “Other State Strategies to Improve Low-Performing Schools.” The Plan explains that Full Service Community Schools is a state grant program “established in 2015 that provides funding to eligible schools to plan, implement and improve full-service community schools. The program prioritizes schools identified for improvement.”

The plan further explains that “[a]dditional funds were allocated in 2016 for expansion of the program. The current funding has provided grants to 13 schools—four in round one and nine additional schools in round two. Full service community school grant funds allow schools to partner with community agencies to provide on-site health and dental clinics, mental health services, family resource centers, college access information, out-of-school program information, and other family support services as outlined in Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.231.” Pg. 22.


New Mexico

Date approved by DOE: 9/8/2017

New Mexico’s ESSA Plan explains that the state’s Public Education Department “will support community school models including community-based health centers in schools with the highest need. PED will continue to provide technical assistance to LEAs on how to leverage funds to provide services for students and families including families experiencing homelessness, migrant families and students in foster care. Additional social workers are provided to schools with high poverty rates to assist students and families and opportunities to provide truancy coaches are also available for schools.” Pg. 141.


New York

Date approved by DOE: 1/16/2018

Community Schools are listed as an intervention for low-performing schools under a section about New York State Receivership Law. The plan explains that, under the receivership law, “a school receiver has the authority to … convert schools to community schools providing wraparound services.” Pg. 103.

Study: Sebastian Castrechini and Rebecca A. London, Positive Student Outcomes in Community Schools, (Center for American Progress and John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, February 2012).



Date approved by DOE: 1/16/2018

In Ohio, Community Schools are referred to as “community learning centers,” which is a type of “Student Support School” authorized under Ohio law. Ohio’s ESSA Plan explains that “Any district school or community (charter) school is eligible to implement the community learning center model to become a Student Support School. Each school can identify the services it wants to provide based on student or community needs, such as school-based health centers, extended educational opportunities, early childhood development, parent resources, and college and career planning.” Pg. 66.

Ohio’s ESSA Plan also lists community learning centers as part of its Ohio Improvement Process, which is a “framework to establish systemic collaborative structures within schools and districts designed to support development and implementation of a strategic improvement plan and focused goals.” Also, the ESSA Plan explains that “[t]o assist schools and districts in educating the whole child, especially Ohio’s most vulnerable students, the Department will develop and share information regarding implementation of community learning center models.” Pg. 52.



Date approved by DOE: 1/16/2018

Pennsylvania’s ESSA Plan extensively discusses community schools. Pennsylvania’s Vision for Public Education, as described in the ESSA Plan, includes a community schools initiative. The plan cites the community schools model as an example of an “evidence-based initiative that bring[s] together school and community resources to meet the needs of the whole child and address non-academic barriers to academic achievement.” The plan explains that “State policy and resources” should support such initiatives. The plan also states that PDE “will work with the PA Community Schools Coalition to identify and support best practice activities in professional development, advocacy, stakeholder engagement, governance, and communications.” Pgs. 4–5, 99–100.

Additionally, the plan includes a spotlight on three site-based examples of community schools initiatives throughout the state: Lancaster (cited as an example of building systemic grassroots partnerships and structures), Lehigh Valley (cited as an example of leveraging national leadership to promote communitywide collective impact), and Philadelphia (cited as an example of university-assisted model and citywide community schools). Pg. 101.

Report: Community Schools: A Whole-Child Framework for School Improvement, Institute for Educational Leadership and Coalition for Community Schools, April 2017.
Policy Brief: D. Jenkins and M. Duffy, Community Schools in Practice: Research on Implementation and Impact, Research for Action, January 2016.



Date approved by DOE: 8/30/2017

Tennessee’s ESSA Plan lists the community school model as a strategy for parent and community engagement, though one that the state appears to be still exploring rather than currently implementing. The plan explains that the Tennessee Department of Education “will explore the scope and cost of partnering with an external entity or develop its own model for the development and expansion of community schools across the state, particularly in Priority schools who often have a greater need for additional student support and wraparound services.” The implementation timeline is “to be determined,” and the funding source is listed as “Title I (including Consolidated Administration and school improvement funds) and State dollars if expanded to Focus schools.” Pg. 174


West Virginia

Date approved by DOE: 1/10/2018

West Virginia’s ESSA Plan lists community schools as an example of a “recommended universal intervention” that the West Virginia Department of Education supports as a way of improving school conditions for student learning. Specifically, the plan states that “[t]he WVDE will continue to promote the Community Schools Framework (encompassing Communities in Schools) in any public school that serves PreK-12 students and participates in a community-based effort to coordinate and integrate services through partnerships with community-based organizations. The Community Schools Framework is both a service location and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. The integrated framework focus[es] on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement leading to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities.” Pg. 52



Date approved by DOE: 1/16/2018

Wisconsin’s ESSA Plan lists community schools as a “more rigorous intervention” for schools needing improvement. The plan explains that the state will provide “[a]dditional requirements and supports, based on the needs assessment and improvement plan,” and lists community schools as an example of “expanded educational design … promoting multiple means of access, assessment, and engagement, more instructional time, positive school climates, and family and community engagement.” Pg. 52–53.