School-Linked Human Services:

A Comprehensive Strategy for Aiding Students at Risk of School Failure

HRD-94-21: Published: Dec 30, 1993. Publicly Released: Dec 30, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on school-linked programs that improve the educational performance and well-being of students at risk of school failure, focusing on: (1) whether multiservice school-linked programs sufficiently assist students and their families; (2) the barriers in using schools for delivering services; and (3) the federal government's role in promoting school-linked programs.

GAO found that: (1) individual school-linked program models vary widely depending on the age group served and community attitudes toward each program; (2) similarities among many comprehensive programs include strong leadership, effective communication between program and school staff, the use of interdisciplinary teams to connect students to services, and program followup to ensure that the services obtained are helpful; (3) although school-linked programs appear to support at-risk children after they complete preschool programs and have a positive effect on student dropout rates, absenteeism, and academic achievement, they require comprehensive evaluation to determine their long-term impact; (4) policymakers' and community leaders' decisions concerning the appropriateness of comprehensive school-linked programs are based on short-term program process rather than on long-term impact data; (5) although few federal comprehensive programs exist for academically at-risk children, educators and policymakers believe that comprehensive services are necessary to address the learning problems of at-risk school children; (6) information is readily available about the problems and procedures of establishing and operating school-linked service programs; (7) some programs have avoided the potential barriers associated with in-school service delivery; and (8) the government needs to provide funding for planning and long-term program support and technical assistance for developing and evaluating school-linked programs.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To provide states and localities with better information about the extent to which school-linked programs can be used as a strategy for increasing high school completion rates and the life outcomes of children, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Education should develop an approach for evaluating the short- and long-term impacts of several school-linked programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HHS worked with Education's Office of Education Research and Improvement (OERI) to develop a research agenda for studying school-linked programs. As a result of this effort, OERI designed a guide book to help local programs evaluate their programs. The evaluation guide is currently being tested at 4 school-linked program sites. Testing should be complete in 6/96.

    Recommendation: To provide states and localities with better information about the extent to which school-linked programs can be used as a strategy for increasing high school completion rates and the life outcomes of children, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Education should develop an approach for evaluating the short- and long-term impacts of several school-linked programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As a result of Education's efforts with HHS and others to develop a research agenda for studying comprehensive school-linked programs, Education has written a guide book to help evaluate local programs. The guide is currently being tested at 4 school-linked program sites and will be completed in June of 1996.

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