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Volume XV, Number 1, Spring 2010
Issue Topic: Scaling Impact
Roblyn Anderson Brigham and Jennifer Nahas discuss the implications of Brigham Nahas Research Associates’ evaluation of the Children’s Aid Society/Carrera Integrated School Model for expansion of the model to new school settings.
For the past 25 years, Dr. Michael Carrera and his team from the Children’s Aid Society’s (CAS) Adolescent Sexuality and Pregnancy Prevention Program have established a model for after school programs working with youth in middle and high school. The model relies on a holistic, long-term approach to pregnancy prevention and sexuality education that helps youth develop personal goals and the desire for a productive future. With a designation by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy as a “Top Tier” program based on a 3-year random assignment evaluation, CAS/Carrera has a demonstrated track record of success.1 CAS/Carrera is now engaged in an effort to incorporate the model into the school-day curriculum at public and charter schools in targeted locations nationwide. This approach, called the Integrated School Model, began in 2006 with one school and is now operating in ten schools.
The Integrated School Model provides the seven foundational components of the CAS/Carrera after school model during the school day: daily education; weekly employment; weekly mental health classes and daily services; weekly family life and sexuality education; self-expression; lifetime individualized sports; and no-cost, comprehensive medical and dental services. Unlike other in-school programs having similar goals, the model does not simply provide additional social work staff or serve only as a health center for students. Rather, CAS/Carrera brings staff, resources, training, curricula, and expertise into partner schools and works with teachers to provide the support students in low-income neighborhoods need to succeed in school and life.
Critical Issues for Expanding the Model
To understand early implementation of the model, CAS/Carrera commissioned Brigham Nahas Research Associates to conduct a study to: (a) document how the model is implemented and integrated into the school setting during the early phase; (b) understand implementation strengths, challenges, and opportunities; and (c) document perceptions of early outcomes. The study involved site visits and in-depth interviews with the principals at each of four schools, staff of the Regional Implementation Centers, and CAS/Carrera staff working in each of the schools.
Based on this evaluation, there is reason to be excited about the possibility for expanding the model to other schools and communities. Findings from the evaluation suggest several critical issues—strengths, challenges, and lessons learned from the Integrated School Model pioneers—that can inform CAS/Carrera’s thinking as the organization moves forward:
Matching philosophies. Philosophical underpinning of the model is clearly articulated, consistent, and non-negotiable. The better the match between the CAS/Carrera philosophy and that of the school, the quicker and easier it is to integrate the model into the school.
Related ResourceCAS/Carrera Integrated School Model Evaluation Report
Brigham, R. A., & Nahas, J. (2008). Children’s Aid Society/Carrera Integrated School Model: Documentation of early implementation in four schools. Cambridge, MA: Brigham Nahas Research Associates.
This report discusses the methods, findings, and implications of Brigham Nahas Research Associates’ evaluation of the CAS/Carrera Integrated School Model. The findings include data about implementation, which informed the lessons for scale discussed in this article, as well as perceived outcomes at the student, classroom/teacher, and school levels.
At the student level, evaluators saw evidence of improved connections with adults, management of emotions, and self-expression/communication. At the classroom/teacher level, data suggest that the program is contributing to calmer classrooms and better management of student behavior. At the school level, evaluators saw evidence of the following: (a) a shift in culture toward infusing youth development into education; (b) faster interventions in crisis situations; (c) earlier identification of students’ needs; (d) better parent communication and connection; and (e) a stronger sense of belonging, cohesion, and school spirit in the cohorts served by the Integrated School Model.
For more information on the CAS Adolescent Sexuality and Pregnancy Prevention Program, visit: www.stopteenpregnancy.com.
Supportive and flexible school leaders. Ease of implementation depends on the unwavering support of the school leader, a flexible school management structure, and the ability to extend school hours. It is important to look for these features in the schools that adopt the model.
Needs of students. The model fills significant and widely identified service gaps in each of the schools. Principals see CAS/Carrera as a key to addressing challenges for which they have no other solution and no other resources available. None of the schools had comprehensive mental health supports for students or a sex education curriculum in place before the arrival of CAS/Carrera.
Flexible implementation. The content of the Integrated School Model is non-negotiable, but flexible implementation of the seven core components shows that the model can be integrated into many different kinds of settings (public schools, charter schools, etc.), as long as leadership is willing to work with CAS/Carrera on operational issues such as scheduling and hiring.
Regional management and support. The strong regional management structure and training provided by CAS/Carrera are critical to ensuring the integrity of the model going forward.
If CAS/Carrera continues to expand into additional schools, and if the expectations for the Integrated School Model’s impact are realized and documented, education leaders—from principals to policymakers—will take notice, and a network of highly effective urban schools is likely to result. The work in these pioneer schools could transform the way many schools operate, the approaches teachers take, and the way children experience education.
Roblyn Anderson Brigham, Ph.D.
Partner,Brigham Nahas Research Associates
Jennifer Nahas, M.M.H.S.
Partner , Brigham Nahas Research Associates
1. Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. (2009). Two new social program models identified as meeting “top tier” evidence of effectiveness. Washington, DC: Author.