HARRISBURG, Pa., April 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Communities In Schools of Pennsylvania (CISPA), an affiliate of the nation's largest dropout-prevention organization, today announced the results of a five-year evaluation that ranks Communities In Schools (CIS) as the most effective dropout-prevention organization in America. ICF International, one of the nation's leading social-science evaluation firms, conducted the evaluation.
The evaluation comes at a critical time, as Pennsylvania continues to battle with a seemingly overwhelming dropout crisis that demands more attention by state government and school districts. Pennsylvania's dropout problem can be directly linked to crime, health problems, unemployment and a loss in tax revenues -- issues that touch all of us and cost Pennsylvanians billions every year.
"This evaluation should send a clear message to our legislators and school districts about how important a school and community partnership is to our most at-risk children," said CISPA President and State Director Nathan Mains. "This ranking has energized our staff to work even harder to provide every child a chance to earn a high school diploma."
ICF concluded that CIS is unique in having an effect on both reducing dropout rates and increasing graduation rates. Further, CIS is effective across states, school settings, grade levels and student ethnicities.
Additional findings of the evaluation include:
- CIS has been proven, through rigorous methods and multiple studies, to have positive benefits on student- and school-level dropout rates, graduation rates, attendance and academic performance;
- The Austin randomized controlled trial demonstrated a reduction in student-level dropout rates that is nearly three times the What Works Clearinghouse's threshold for "substantively important" effects; and
- CIS is one of only 15 dropout-prevention programs that have ever been studied using gold-standard research.
Established in 1994, CISPA currently encompasses six local CIS affiliates in 119 program sites serving more than 18,350 students throughout Pennsylvania. CISPA network affiliates are located in the Capital Region, Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, the Laurel Highlands, Pittsburgh-Allegheny County and Southwest Pennsylvania.
The state prison system accounts for one of the state's largest expenditures each year. In 2008, state taxpayers spent $1.84 billion (or 6.8 percent of the state budget) on incarcerating criminals. About 75 percent of inmates do not have a high school diploma. That means three out of every four Pennsylvanians in our state prisons failed at some point to complete their education -- in a system that receives billions of dollars each year.
Other numbers are alarming as well. The mortality rate for adults without a high school education is 2.5 times higher than those who graduate, and dropouts are four times more likely to be unemployed than high school graduates. In addition, the annual losses in income taxes for America's dropouts exceed $50 billion -- dollars that are desperately needed as our state and federal governments continue to deal with an uncertain economic future.
For more than 30 years, CIS has championed the connection of needed community resources with schools. By bringing caring adults into the schools to address children's unmet needs, CIS provides the link between educators and the community. CISPA is one of 27 state affiliates, plus the District of Columbia, that comprise the CIS national network.
SOURCE Communities In Schools of Pennsylvania