Educational opportunity for homeless students

Since the beginning of the Great Recession, rates of student homelessness have risen rapidly in urban, suburban, and rural school districts throughout the United States. Approximately one million students were identified as homeless during the 2009 to 2010 school year. Although many more homeless students remained unidentified as such, this official number still represents a 41 percent increase over the number of students identified as homeless during the 2007 to 2008 school year.1 Nearly three-quarters of school districts throughout the United States reported local increases in student homelessness throughout this period.2 Since homelessness has been associated with an array of negative school outcomes including low attendance rates, poor grades and attendance scores, and social stigmatization, this increase represents a significant challenge for schools.3 As the depth and breadth of student homelessness have increased, education scholars have examined student-level effects of housing instability, evaluated policies that define homeless students’ rights and responsibilities, and suggested approaches that are responsive to homeless students’ needs.4 One clear finding that has emerged from studies of homeless and highly mobile students is that schools and communitybased organizations have important roles in connecting students and families to a variety of education-related opportunities. The purpose of the study summarized here was to learn more about these efforts, especially to determine what practices, routines, and schools were used to connect homeless students to educational opportunities, both in and out of school.

Publication Date: 
Journal Name: 
Institute for Research on Poverty
United States