An analysis of Rhode Island child opportunity zones through the lens of whole-school change

Susan Patricia Casey Torrey, University of Rhode Island


This study investigated Rhode Island Child Opportunity Zones (COZ), a school-linked service integration initiative that provides students and their families' links to health, mental health, and social services. Twenty-one elementary and three middle COZ schools were compared to twenty-one and three middle matched schools on a whole school level utilizing the High Performance Learning Communities Assessment, which is a comprehensive measure of school change. Comparison schools were matched on student demographics of gender, ethnicity, and free lunch status. Schools were compared on hundreds of variables across various stakeholders, including parents, school staff, school administrators, and students.

The study found limited differences between COZ and non-COZ schools. Although there were significant differences regarding health and mental health services offered in COZ schools and in the structures that support and implement integrated services, the differences were minimal considering the number of variables that were investigated. The only difference between staff in COZ and non-COZ schools was that teachers who are not core teachers in non-COZ schools contacted parents more often regarding health and social services than teachers who are not core teachers in COZ schools. This difference was contrary to the research hypothesis. There were no measurable differences between parents and students in COZ schools as compared to their matched school counterparts.

The most promising difference between COZ and non-COZ schools was related to disciplinary issues at the middle schools. The study found that there were significantly more disciplinary actions that occurred in non-COZ middle schools as compared to COZ middle schools. Although this finding is important, it is difficult to make further assumptions because of the limited number of middle schools in this study. More importantly, there were no other changes at the middle level that supported this finding.

This study provides important information for those in positions to make decisions about the ways in which social services are delivered in schools. Further investigation of COZ services is clearly warranted as the results of this study indicate that caution must be undertaken if this type of program is to be adopted or expanded without additional substantive research.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Susan Patricia Casey Torrey, "An analysis of Rhode Island child opportunity zones through the lens of whole-school change" (2001). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3039086.