UFT’s Community Learning Schools are moving in the right direction


The UFT launched its Community Learning Schools Initiative in 2012 to help schools overcome the academic, social and emotional barriers that poverty creates for too many students in New York City.

Four years later, UFT Community learning schools (CLS) help students succeed, schools in CLS longest initiative showing the most academic growth.

ELA test results: 2013 to 2016

Decrease in level 1

Increased levels 3 and 4

UFT Community learning schools Cohorts 1 and 2

-16.3 points

+12.4 points

New York District Schools *

-9.3 points

+11.6 points

Note: students in UFT CLS schools are poorer, more likely to learn English or need special education services than the city average

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, but early indications are telling us that community learning schools can help tackle the effects of poverty in our classrooms and offer an option that can be scaled up to reach more. students, not just the lucky few, “mentioned UFT President Michel Mulgrew.

Background: CHAH and the UFT Community learning school model

CHAH was one of the first members of the UFT/CLS initiative. School 6-12 in Washington Heights had strong partnerships with Community League of the Heights Inc., New Visions for Public Schools, New York Presbyterian, and Columbia University Medical Center.

CHAH health partners enabled the school to enroll more than 6,000 people from the immediate community in the health clinic that shares space with CHAH.

By becoming a UFT CLS school, CHAH was able to take advantage of even more services: mental health screening for 245 middle school students each year with sustained follow-up as each child ages; vision screening for all 642 students and free glasses for the nearly 200 who needed them.

Academically, New Visions provided accessible real-time data, a new curriculum and strategies that helped the school reduce its percentage of students reading at level 1 by 36.7 percentage points between 2013 and 2016. During the same period, the percentage of students reading at levels 3 and 4 increased by 23.9 points.



CHAH The graduation rate in August was 76 percent this summer, up 13 percentage points from a year ago.

“We were a struggling school and that’s when it’s easy to fall into the test prep trap – put all your energy into test prep in the hopes of getting a bump. “, said CHAH Mark’s main house. “But real learning is more than that. Children are not enthusiastic about coming to school for test preparation. Teachers did not enter this work to prepare for tests. The goal was to do more, to try more. And now the numbers are starting to catch up with the work we have done. “

Examples of services in others UFT/CLS schools:

  • At PS 156 in Brooklyn, where 29% of students fall into the Department of Education’s “temporary homeless” category, the UFT the director of the community school goes to a nearby shelter to meet with parents, running workshops ranging from how to help their children succeed in school to how to relieve stress.
  • At Curtis High School on Staten Island, eye exams revealed that 21% of the school’s 2,000 students needed glasses. Each child who needed a pair of glasses received a free pair via CLS.
  • At IS 96 in Bensonhurst, a student told the school’s new full-time social worker that she had been sexually assaulted by a family acquaintance. With the help of the school’s mental health team, the girl told her mother what had happened, and the perpetrator is now under police investigation. After the intervention, the student was more engaged in school, his teachers said, as if a burden had been lifted from his shoulders.

“As teachers we have all seen children come to our classes after spending the night in a shelter. Others might arrive hungry. Or come to school scared because a parent has just lost their job. We help our schools meet these very real and very basic needs. We start with what our children need and build from there, ”said Karen Alford, the UFT vice-president of primary schools.

During the 2016-2017 school year, the UFT will have 28 schools in its CLS initiative, a mixture of 19 elementary schools, four colleges and five high schools enrolling more than 16,000 students in the five districts.

If the CLS initiative was his own school district, he would have a larger number of students than Community School District 5 in Manhattan or the school districts of Albany and Hempstead combined.

In general, community school models in New York City and elsewhere are designed to help schools partner with nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies. These partnerships lead to the creation of wellness and mental health services and academic supports within schools.

The UFT/CLS The template includes specific guidelines on how these goals are achieved:

  • Schools apply to CLS and part of the UFT selection process is their ability to demonstrate buy-in from all school communities.
  • Schools should conduct a needs assessment and create a set of programs and services designed specifically to meet these individualized educational needs.
  • Schools must hire a community school principal to manage CLS development.
  • Schools should form an advisory board made up of parents, school staff, community members, and local businesses and institutions.
  • CLS provides monthly professional development to community school principals and community school teams for all CLS schools.

See a list of UFT Community learning schools by cohort ”

* Updated October 26, 2016

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