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ERIC Number: ED593313
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Apr-30
Pages: 30
Abstractor: As Provided
Homelessness as a Barrier to Educational Opportunity: A Statewide Analysis and Case Study
Tobin, Kerri
AERA Online Paper Repository, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Antonio, TX, Apr 27-May 1, 2017)
AERA's 2017 Call for Proposals asks us to consider pathways to achieving equal educational opportunity. This presentation argues that homelessness is one critical issue often overlooked when considering such pathways. Nationwide, over 1.3 million students experienced homelessness in 2013 (National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, 2014), a number that has doubled in less than a decade. Children and youth experiencing homelessness are more likely than their stably housed peers to experience an array of adverse outcomes at school (Buckner, 2008). Studies demonstrate that these children perform worse on standardized assessments of reading, math, science, and language than their stably housed peers (Herbers, et al., 2012; Masten, et al., 1997; Miller, 2011; Obradovic, et al., 2009). Additionally, these children are more likely to demonstrate worse classroom engagement and social skills -- even after accounting for the influence of poverty and other risk factors (Fantuzzo, LeBoeuf, Brumley, & Perlman, 2013; Fantuzzo & Perlman, 2010). Finally, children experiencing homelessness are more likely to be absent from school and to be suspended or expelled than their stably housed peers (Dworsky, 2008; Perlman & Fantuzzo, 2010). We begin with an overview of how homelessness is defined and measured, the provisions of the McKinney-Vento Act of 1987, which covers the education of students without housing, as well as the ways in which the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) strengthens protections for these students. We then examine what researchers know about the impacts of homelessness on educational achievement, offering data about the size and scope of problem on a national level. Finally, we zero in on the children in Florida, using it as an example of how available data can be analyzed and used to make policy and practice recommendations. This case study also allows us to see which data is missing and how its collection would improve our ability to provide equal educational opportunity for this most vulnerable of student populations. Analysis of Florida state assessment data from 2008 to 2013 reveals that reading and math proficiency rates are lower for students experiencing homelessness and are lower than the overall state student population and students who are economically disadvantaged. It also suggests that Florida homeless students score lower than students experiencing homelessness nationally. However, since the only real way to compare across states is with NAEP data, and NAEP does not disaggregate student scores on housing status, it is difficult to draw meaningful conclusions. Participants will be challenged to explore whether a state has an obligation to try to narrow the achievement gap between its homeless and housed students even though this gap exists nationwide. In closing, we look at how homeless education liaisons report they use their federal funding and which barriers they say they face. Specific recommendations for Florida stem from this data, but participants will also be asked to consider how the flaws in the federal reporting system affect our ability to determine how states can best serve homeless students.
AERA Online Paper Repository. Available from: American Educational Research Association. 1430 K Street NW Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-238-3200; Fax: 202-238-3250; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Grade 8; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Elementary Education; Secondary Education; Grade 4; Intermediate Grades; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Florida
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Stewart B McKinney Homeless Assistance Act 1987
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Assessment of Educational Progress