McCarver Elementary School Special Housing Program
McCarver Elementary School serves Tacoma’s poorest population of students. It has the largest number of homeless students. Its academic outcomes are poor. It has the highest annual turnover rate of students. What caught THA's eye was the turnover rate among the students. This rate has ranged in recent years up to 179%. This rate is not caused by occupation. The McCarver population is not a farm worker population. It is not a military population. It is a population transient because of deep poverty, homelessness and housing instability, and the family challenges it can mean. This led THA to an 18 month planning effort with the Tacoma Public School District, the staff and faculty of McCarver and its parents, resulting in the McCarver Elementary School Special Housing Initiative. It has four main parts.
- Housing: To help stabilize the school, THA provides rental assistance and individualized case management to homeless families with children enrolled in kindergarten, first or second grade at McCarver. THA provides this rental assistance to fifty families. The assistance starts high, paying most of the rent. It tapers down to zero after five years.
- Parent Commitment: The Project asks parents to commit to their children's school success and their own education and employment prospects. They must keep their children enrolled at McCarver. They commit to participate actively in their children’s schooling. They commit to an individual plan to make the family self-sufficient when the assistance ends. Services from THA caseworkers and over thirty nonprofit and public partners help the families meet these commitments.
- School District Investment: The Tacoma Public School District has made a substantial commitment to bring the Primary Years International Baccalaureate Program to McCarver. It also has warmly welcomed THA into the school and provide THA's caseworkers with their own office in the school.
- Evaluation: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds a third party evaluation that tracks an array of outcomes. The evaluator is Geo Education & Research. Its January 2015 report on the third year of the Program is available here. It reports that school annual mobility rate declined from 107% prior to THA’s initiative down to 96% after the first year and down further to 74% after the third year. In the second and third years, the cohort children sustained those gains, performing at the same level as all other children at the school. The mean earned income of the families has more than doubled since their entry into the program while the mean unearned income has remained essentially stable.
The NW News Network produced a broadcast on the McCarver Program, featuring the Gantt family. It aired on KPLU 3/11/2014. Read or hear it online here.
Affordable Housing Consortium Forum on THA's McCarver Program
On March 13, 2013, the Tacoma Pierce County Affordable Housing Consortium held a public forum featuring the McCarver Special Housing Program. Speakers included Kurt Miller of the Tacoma School Board, THA Manager of Educational Programs Michael Power, and former McCarver Principal Scott Rich. The forum was broadcast on TV-Tacoma and can be viewed below.
The KBTC TV Northwest Now episode about the THA McCarver Project and our partnership with KBTC on the Ready to Learn grant is available on their website at http://vxideo.kbtc.org/video/2281448192