A Study of Support Services and Their Relationship with School Effectiveness in American Public Schools: Findings from SASS 2007-2008

Diane J. Gibbs, Western Michigan University


This study inquires into support services in schools and their relationship to school effectiveness by using data from the National Center for Education Statistics 2007-2008 School and Staffing Survey (SASS). Students' ability to learn is impacted by their physical and mental health. It is more difficult to measure the influence of nonacademic factors on academic achievements than traditional academic factors. This study focuses on (a) the extent support services, beyond regular classroom instruction, are provided, (b) how provision is affected by school background, (c) whether and, if so, how providing support services relates to school effectiveness, and (d) whether and, if so, how providing support services relates to school effectiveness in schools with more than 50% free and reduced lunch rates. Descriptive statistics, multiple regression analysis, discriminant function analysis, and logistical regression analysis are used for this study. Support services include school counseling, nursing, social work, psychologists, speech therapy, other professional staff, and other non-instructional staff. School effectiveness factors are defined as meeting adequate yearly progress (AYP), average daily attendance (ADA), and high school graduation rates. Several significant themes emerge from this study. The analysis for provision of support services reveal that schools provided more school counselors than any of the other services. There is a significant, positive relationship between speech therapy services and meeting AYP, regardless of free and reduced-price lunch rates. School nurses have a positive relationship with ADA, but not for schools with a 50% or more free and reduced-price lunch rate. School counselors have a positive relationship with high school graduation rates, except in the case of schools with 50% or more free and reduced-price lunch rates. In summary, no one support service has a significant relationship across all three factors. This suggests that support services have individual roles in making schools more effective. Schools with higher poverty levels are affected differently by the provision of support services. The findings have implications for further development in research, theory, practice, and policy regarding support services in schools.