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New resource to expand educational equity for students

In 2022, City Year was excited to join more than 100 student and youth-focused groups to promote and support an ambitious initiative: the National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS) that strives to bring high-quality student supports to more schools and expand educational equity for all students. Now, together with a core group of leading organizations that includes City Year, NPSS is releasing a set of voluntary quality standards that reaffirm our shared commitment to expand equity, help students and schools recover from pandemic-related disruptions in teaching and learning, and make quality programming more accessible and replicable across the country.

students and City Year AmeriCorps members at Mabelvale Elementary School in Little Rock

What is the National Partnership for Student Success?

Launched at the White House and jointly led by U.S. Department of Education, AmeriCorps and The Everyone Graduates Center, NPSS aims to recruit and train 250,000 caring adults to serve in five key roles:

  • Academic tutors
  • Mentors
  • Student success coaches
  • Wraparound service coordinators
  • Postsecondary transition coaches

These five student support categories are evidence-based and have been shown to be effective in helping to boost academic achievement, high school graduation rates, social-emotional skills, college and career readiness, attendance rates and mental health. We believe that by infusing schools with these additional student supports—particularly in schools that have been systemically under resourced—educational equity is expanded.

What are the voluntary quality standards?

NPSS’s new voluntary quality standards highlight common elements across the five student support categories and describe distinguishing features for each role. Designed for use by schools, state education leaders and organizations, these voluntary quality standards are critical to efforts to recruit, train and support staff and volunteers in these five evidence-based student support categories.

The six components of the quality standards are:

  • Capacity—recruiting and screening adults to serve as staff and volunteers who support students and youth
  • Content—providing role-specific training for a specific program and partnership requirements
  • Components—understanding the distinguishing features of each program (tutors, mentors, student success coaches, wraparound support coordinators, and postsecondary transition coaches)
  • Contexts—having all necessary protocols in place to keep students and their data safe and secure
  • Connections—building strong connections with students, families and caregivers that promote student engagement and participation in programs and opportunities
  • Conditions—making a commitment to educational equity is paramount to the successful implementation of NPSS’s student support services. Other necessary conditions include clarity on leadership roles; professional development; and having the student supports be fully integrated into the school community or youth program.

These quality standards draw upon existing quality standards and work based on years of research. They were developed by a group of student and youth development organizations that includes City Year alongside: Accelerate and National Support Accelerators; Communities in Schools; Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University; Camp Fire; Mentor; National College Attainment Network; and Knowledge to Power Catalysts.

It’s important to note that standards are not intended to be used to evaluate or penalize volunteers or programs that don’t yet meet the standards. Rather, the standards reflect the shared aspirations of the NPSS and the organizations that helped to craft them. They are intended to provide educators and youth development practitioners clear signals about what evidence and research have pointed to as effective elements of programming and how they can integrate these elements and approaches into their own context, programs and communities.

Support and technical assistance for schools and youth organizations

In addition to the voluntary quality standards, organizations that specialize in each of these areas—tutoring, mentoring, student success coaching, wraparound services and postsecondary transition coaching—are working with a Support Hub at Johns Hopkins University to offer guidance and technical assistance to educators and communities interested in bringing more services into their schools and afterschool programs.

City Year is serving as the lead organization providing technical assistance advising for student success coaching.

What is a student success coach?

Like the four other student support services offered by the NPSS, student success coaching is research-based and designed to address inequities in schools.

Student success coaches help to expand educational equity by providing critical capacity to educators in systemically under-resourced schools. This additional support allows for more personalized learning and contributes to more welcoming, engaging, joyful and equitable learning environments for all students and members of the school community.

Student success coaches (SSCs) serve full-time in public schools or youth-serving organizations as near-peer tutors, mentors and role models uniquely positioned to build developmental relationships with students.

Partnering with classroom teachers, SSCs provide holistic supports such as one-on-one tutoring, small group instruction, skill building, afterschool programs and school-wide events designed to advance academic achievement and social-emotional learning. Their caring and consistent presence in the daily lives of students helps to create a sense of mutual trust that empowers students to explore their interests, build on their strengths and hone skills they need to thrive in school, college and career.

Conclusion

City Year will continue to work with the National Partnership for Student Success and its partners to promote these evidence-based services and to expand access to student success coaching.

We hope these voluntary quality standards will help schools and youth programs assess their current capabilities and select the program that will best help them meet their goals to help students learn, develop and achieve.

City Year hopes that when education leaders and policymakers consider SSCs for their students, they view student success coaching as not only building capacity in schools that can benefit from additional resources and relationships, but just as importantly, as building equity by ensuring all students have access to educational environments and opportunities that help them to thrive.

Contact the Hub at JHU’s Everyone Graduates Center for technical assistance or to learn more about student success coaching and the other evidence-based services offered by NPSS.

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