How It Works

Like the operating system of a computer that allows the software to do its specialized work, the Comer Process provides the organizational, management and communication framework for planning and managing all the activities of the school based on the developmental needs of its students. When fully implemented, the process brings a positive school and classroom climate, stability, and an instructional focus that supports all of the school's curriculum and renewal efforts.

Click English or Spanish for an illustration of the model.

Three structures comprise the basic framework on which the Comer Process is built:

  • The School Planning and Management Team develops a Comprehensive School Plan, sets academic, social and community relations goals, and coordinates all school activities, including staff development programs. The team creates critical dialogue around teaching and learning and monitors progress to identify needed adjustments to the school plan as well as opportunities to support the plan. Members of the team include administrators, teachers, support staff, and parents.

For more information about the School Planning and Management Team (SPMT) and the SPMT subcommittees, please see the following chapters from Transforming School Leadership and Management to Support Student Learning and Development:The Field Guide to Comer Schools in Action

The School Planning and Management Team (SPMT): The Engine That Drives the School by Miriam McLaughlin, Everol Ennis, and Fred Hernandez (Chapter 3, pp. 25-39)

The School Planning and Management Team (SPMT) Subcommittees: Where the Work of the Comprehensive School Plan Gets Done by Malcolm N. Adler and Jan Stocklinski with contributions by J. Patrick Howley, Sherrie Berrien Joseph, and the Comer Staff of the Prince George's County Public Schools, Maryland (Chapter 7, pp. 77-95)

  • The Student and Staff Support Team promotes desirable social conditions and relationships. It connects all of the school’s student services, facilitates the sharing of information and advice, addresses individual student needs, accesses resources outside the school, and develops prevention programs. Serving on this team are the principal and staff members with expertise in child development and mental health, such as counselors, social workers, psychologists, special education teachers, nurses, and others.

For more information about the Student and Staff Support Team (SSST), please see the following chapter from Transforming School Leadership and Management to Support Student Learning and Development:The Field Guide to Comer Schools in Action

The Student and Staff Support Team and the Coordination of Student Services: "Nine Different People Were Helping One Child" by William T. Brown and Sherrie Berrien Joseph (Chapter 11, pp. 127-147)

  • The Parent Team involves parents and families in the school by developing activities through which they can support the school's social and academic programs. This team also selects representatives to serve on the School Planning and Management Team.

For more information about the Parent Team, please see the following chapter from Transforming School Leadership and Management to Support Student Learning and Development:The Field Guide to Comer Schools in Action

Families as Partners: Parent teams and Parent/Family Involvement by Sheila Jackson, Nora Martin, and Jan Stocklinski (Chapter 10, pp. 105-126)

All three teams adhere to the following three guiding principles throughout their work:

  • No-Fault Problem Solving—Maintains the focus on problem-solving rather than placing blame
  • Consensus Decision Making—Through dialogue and understanding, builds consensus about what is good for children and adolescents

Making Decisions: Reaching Consensus in Team Meetings by Michael Ben-Avie, Trudy Raschkind Steinfeld, and James P. Comer, M.D., M.P.H. (Chapter 17, pp. 185-190

  • Collaboration—Encourages the principal and teams to work together

This framework places the students' developmental needs at the center of the school's agenda and establishes shared responsibility. Concerned adults work together to provide students with the developmental activities that may be lacking outside the school. They also work together to make effective decisions about the program and curriculum of the school based on student needs. Central to their work are the following three school operations, which are supervised by the School Planning and Management Team:

  • Development of the Comprehensive School Plan including curriculum, instruction and assessment, as well as social and academic climate goals based on a developmental understanding of students

Designing the Comprehensive School Plan by Valerie Maholmes, Ph.D., (Chapter 6, pp. 57-62)

  • Provision of Staff Development in the service of achieving the goals of the Comprehensive School Plan
  • Assessment and Modification that provides new information and identifies new opportunities based on the data of the school’s population