Communities In Schools of El Paso, Inc.
Communities In Schools (CIS) of El Paso is part of a national and statewide network that empowers high need students to achieve social, personal and academic advancement by surrounding students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Locally, CIS of El Paso serves over 9,578 students through 60 sites. In the 2014 school year, CIS of Texas programs served more than 80,000 students through one –on-one, comprehensive case-managed services. CIS of Texas programs are administered by the Texas Education Agency.
The mission of Communities in Schools of El Paso, Inc. is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. For over 31 years, CIS of El Paso has been and continues to be the only school-based, non-profit organization serving the needs of El Paso City/County. CIS of El Paso started operations with one school in 1985. During the 2014-15 school year, we served over 9,500 students with direct case-managed services and 30,000+ students with indirect services. CIS of El Paso coordinators worked directly on the campuses of 60 schools in four independent school districts and one charter program (Clint ISD, Socorro ISD, Tornillo ISD and Ysleta ISD, El Paso Academy Charter High School), in addition to implementing three special programs.
CIS of El Paso is aware of the importance that society and community play in a student’s academic success, therefore the primary goals of CIS are to help students in at-risk situations stay in school and improve in academics, attendance and/or behavior. The focus for CIS students are: Improve academic achievement, improve attendance, decrease disruptive behavior, promotion to next grade level, high school graduation, no contact with the Juvenile Justice System, encourage higher education and career preparation, and increase awareness through enrichment activities.
CIS of El Paso believes that keeping young people in school is not just the job of the teachers or school, it is a community responsibility. It is the responsibility of the schools, parents, employers and community groups to help young people prepare for life. CIS of El Paso provides services year round and connects schools with resources that students need to stay in school and successfully learn. The degreed CIS coordinators assigned to each campus coordinate services designed to assist not only individual students but the entire school population. CIS coordinators receive preparation through Project Operations, Program Shadowing and Sharing, and staff development throughout the school year.
CIS Six Components
The Six Components are services which CIS implements in order to effectively assist students in achieving school success. Each component has specific state approved activities that correlate to the component. They are as follows:
1. Supportive Guidance and Counseling: This service provides one on one support to the student to include goal setting for their academic success, this may also include support groups.
2. Health and Human Services: Health related activities that include referrals for medical and wellness assistance and connection to various available services.
3. Parental and Family Engagement Services and activities that support and help increase participation of parents and families in the student’s educational experience.
4. College and Career Awareness: Services and activities that promote and encourage higher education, career awareness, job readiness, skills training and preparation for the workforce.
5. Enrichment Activities: Activities that provide an opportunity to learn and bond with their families and the community. These activities promote social, cultural, and life skills through health fairs, field trips etc.
6. Academic Enhancement and Support: These services support all educational areas as needed to promote students’ achievement and success. It could include homework assistance, short-term tutoring in reading and math, English and science as well as college readiness.
Five CIS Basics
CIS of El Paso also believes that each individual should have the Five CIS Basics which are the core beliefs to success, and are incorporated throughout the delivery system. CIS of El Paso believes that every child needs and deserves:
1. One-on-one relationship with a caring adult.
2. Safe place to learn and grow.
3. Healthy start and healthy future.
4. Marketable skill to use upon graduation.
5. Chance to give back to peers and community.
The CIS Core Values
The CIS model incorporates three core values which are personalism, accountability and coordination. Personalism is provided by building and sustaining a one to one relationship with students and building relationships with key individuals such as families, community partners, school personnel etc. Accountability is provided through the CIS tracking Management System to record, track and report services. Coordination is provided by assessing the needs of the campus and students and then leveraging resources and brokering services that can be delivered at the school campus to meet those needs.
Numerous studies and independent evaluations have proven the Communities in Schools model to be effective in keeping students in school. In 2008, the Texas State Legislature commissioned ICF International to conduct an evaluation of Communities in Schools of Texas. The final report submitted to the Texas Education Agency in December 2008 showed (in part) that CIS had the following impact: 1) Providing more hours of general supportive guidance (the core of the CIS model) was linked to lower odds of dropping out, greater odds of being promoted to the next grade level, greater odds of staying in school, and is positively associated with better attendance rates; and 2) Parents note positive changes in their children's attitudes towards school; attitudes and behavior towards their parents, teachers and authority figures; and improvement in work habits and in course grades. CIS at the national, state, and local levels, in a coordinated effort, is continually striving to maintain the quality and positive results of the program. In an issue of TIME Magazine (September 2010 Annual National Service Issue), CIS was recognized as being the largest dropout prevention organization in the nation coordinating a wide range of services. Also mentioned, was a 91% success rate in helping case managed students reach the next grade level.
CIS of El Paso is part of the Texas Education Code. As such, the organization is required to submit various performance reports throughout the school year such as case management paperwork, Student Service Log, Group Service Log, Event Service Log, and end of year Progress. The Texas Education Agency judiciously tracks, monitors, and very importantly, confirms all the data submitted. Findings from statewide evaluations associate CIS of Texas students with a higher incidence of staying in school, greater prevalence of being promoted, and improved attendance rates. CIS of El Paso report for 2015-16 school year data indicates the following for our case managed students in YISD, SISD, and TISD:
•A 99% success rate (grades 7-12) in keeping our case managed students in school;
•89% of our students showed significant improvement in academics;
•79% of students showed significant improvement in attendance;
•90% of our students showed significant improvement in behavior;
•96% of our students were promoted to the next grade level; and
•90% of our students eligible to graduate, did so.
Special Programs that are offered and work in collaboration with the CIS Program include the Choices: Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs Prevention program which provides curriculum-based life skills training and incorporates presentations and healthy alternative activities that promote a drug free lifestyle. The Center Against Family Violence (CAFV) works to ensure that children entering the shelter are immediately enrolled at a school campus and that they have a liaison to help them get any needed services and supplies. The Phoenix Project is designed to work with students who have officially dropped out of school and proactively reach out to them by providing them, with an opportunity to reintegrate into the education system.
CIS of El Paso is governed by a local board of directors that oversee the program, establish goals and objectives and determine policy and procedures. These are implemented by the Executive Director who oversees the financial and programmatic operation of the agency to ensure that the program is effectively managed. CIS of El Paso operates through funding from the State of Texas (through the Texas Education Agency), school districts and various foundations. CIS of EL Paso has a long and successful history of managing grants and their associated duties and activities.
CIS of El Paso is fully aware that the longevity of the program is due to the generosity of corporate, federal state and local financial support. CIS of El Paso is committed to persistently seek funds for the continued support of youth in the El Paso community. We are committed to eliminating the choice of dropping out of school by continuing to provide intervention and prevention services to students that feel they have no other choice.