Meeting the Needs of Young Students
A strong early education helps prepare students for lifelong success. The Mt. Washington Alliance is working with the neighborhood elementary school and other organizations to improve student achievement through early intervention.
Tilton Elementary School in Mt. Washington serves students in grades 1 through 4. Many of these students face barriers to education: 62% are economically disadvantaged, 18% have disabilities, and 12% are English language learners. High turnover in the neighborhood, with more than a third of the student population shifting within a given school year, contributes to absenteeism and makes it difficult to track and address problems.
The Mt. Washington Alliance is working with Tilton and our other partners to identify and anticipate family issues likely to hinder learning. Once issues are identified, we can connect Tilton students and families with services to prevent or address crises that can affect students’ attendance and performance in school.
Among other actions, the Alliance is working to:
- Create clear data-sharing guidelines and boundaries, based on the legal and ethical obligations of each Alliance partner;
- Establish a pattern of regular interaction among the partners; and
- Institute mechanisms for parent advice and feedback.
The Mt. Washington Alliance has developed an evidence-based approach to this work that entails three strategies. First, the Alliance is collaborating with Tilton’s principal and other school administrators and the Haverhill Public Schools’ software design partner to create a customized “EdPanel” dashboard system for monitoring Tilton students’ academic progress, along with other school and family factors that affect learning.
As part this system, social service agencies, school staff, administration, and health care providers will establish an early warning system that will call attention to a family in or approaching a crisis, in order to mitigate disruption to student academic progress. Nonprofit partners involved in this effort include Emmaus Inc. and Community Action Inc. School and agency indicators will be supplemented by informal neighborhood networks, within appropriate guidelines of confidentiality.
Second, the Alliance is researching and evaluating best practices in developing expanded learning opportunities for students at Tilton. Expertise from parter agency Massachusetts 2020 is helping in the development of these opportunities.
Third, the Alliance is building school-community alliances to create a climate of community and increasing engagement. Included in this effort are activities such as connecting school leadership and teachers with neighborhood groups and institutions as learning resources and a source of culturally relevant role models for students; coordinating with youth-serving agencies and transportation sources to increase access to healthy activities during after-school, vacation, and summer break periods; and connecting Tilton with groups that can help to offer meals at school events.