News from the Field: Quad Communities Development Corporation

Quad Communities Development Corporation is located in the Hyde Park area of Chicago and serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Recently, our program has enjoyed several academic successes. Reavis Elementary, where the program is based, improved its Adequate Yearly Progress rating because of increased student achievement. We have made additional progress in science, where test scores increased by 18% between the 2012–13 and 2013–14 school years. In both cases, the afterschool program has been recognized as contributing to these academic successes.

We decided to focus on science in our afterschool program after reviewing test scores and other data and seeing an opportunity to improve student achievement in this area. We have offered three different science programs at our 21st CCLC. First, Project Exploration, a nonprofit science education organization, led the Sisters4Science program for our middle school girls. This program is designed to engage middle and high school urban girls of color in science and equip them with the skills and experiences that will enable them to pursue a degree and career in this field. The young women took part in hands-on science activities that were facilitated by women scientists from Chicago-area universities.

Our second program was a Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) project called “The Cookie Jar Mystery," a 15-unit project focused on forensic science. The course exposed fifth- through seventh-grade students to a fascinating area of science. They were immersed in roles of crime scene investigators as they worked together examining and analyzing evidence needed to solve the mystery of the broken cookie jar. Students learned and used real laboratory techniques and materials, created theories about the “crime,” and were able to test their hypotheses. Along the way, students acquired new vocabulary words, explored careers in forensics, and became acquainted with scientific procedures and processes that aligned with lessons taught during the school day.

Our third science program was the robotics breakfast club for students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Participants created different robots from LEGO robotics kits. They also had an opportunity to present their projects to parents and show others how to make robots. In fact, all three of our programs had a strong family engagement component, with students presenting their accomplishments to their families at a culminating event.

We are proud of our students’ academic accomplishments, and we are also excited to see their growing interest in science. Teachers have noted that students are more engaged in their work during the school day. We are also pleased that the mayor of Chicago has recognized our school-community partnership as “one of the 10 best school-community partnerships working to raise student achievement in low-performing schools,” touting the program partnership as “a model for all schools.”

To learn more about Quad Communities Development Corporation, visit our website at www.qcdc.org.