Lightening the Load: How Community Schools Can Support Effective Teaching


A new paper from the Center for American Progress takes a look at the increasingly talked about “wraparound services” for children in low-income communities, and the connections to teacher efficiency.  Wraparound services generally refer to non-classroom services such as health care, family involvement programs, and food assistance.  There is research on the potential benefits such services provide for students, but how teacher efficacy relates to these services has yet to be determined.

The authors of the paper interviewed faculty and staff from 14 schools around the country that integrate wraparound services, called “community schools” by education professionals.  From these conversations, the authors identified four main trends:

1. Providing wraparound services at school helped reduce the health-related issues that would otherwise cost students instructional time.

2. These services help students and families stay in the community by meeting basic needs, and the resulting decrease in mobility benefits teachers by creating classroom stability.

3. Family programs, such as ESL classes, encourages parents to communicate more with teachers and empowers them to help their children with homework and generally support the work the teacher does in the classroom.

4. Enlisting the help of community partners and services providers, such as onsite health professionals, can free teachers to concentrate on instruction with fewer worries about nonacademic student needs—thus reducing their stress and burnout tendencies.

Taking these trends together, the researchers make several recommendations to schools, districts and states to help them maximize the benefits of wraparound services for teachers:

A. Creatively combine multiple funding streams and align school services with any existing commitments to provide wraparound services.

B. Incorporate teacher input when aligning instructional strategies with wraparound student services.

C. Include strategies for data collection and analysis whenever possible.

D. Explore the impact of wraparound services on teacher effectiveness to see whether there is an optimal mix of service to provide at high-poverty schools, and whether the presence of such services makes these schools more attractive to teacher candidates.

To read the full report, please visit