Report showcases opportunities, challenges of homeless students
With a continued push to a 90 percent graduation rate for all students, a new report released Monday addresses a population not often discussed – homeless students.
“Hidden in Plain Sight: Homeless Students in America’s Public Schools” provides insight into the resources needed to help these students dealing with homelessness but also stay in school and on a track to success.
In Missouri, the number of homeless students has continued to tick upward since the 2007-2008 school year, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
In the 2014-2015 school year, the state estimated more than 30,650 students who were enrolled were homeless compared to 24,460 in the 2011-2012 school year.
“Homelessness is a threat to everything students might want to achieve in their lives, but it doesn’t have to be a barrier to success for millions of students,” said John M. Bridgeland, president and CEO of Civic Enterprises and a co-author of the report. “Schools, community organizations and caring adults can create a web of support and lifelines to action that will help students experiencing homelessness cope and thrive.
“For the long term,” Bridgeland continued, “we should aspire to make the provision of safe, affordable housing as common as school breakfast and lunch.”
Last year, Independent Lens in partnership with Spargel Productions and Kartemquin Films released “The Homestretch,” which detailed the lives of three Chicago teens who grappled with homelessness and reaching their dreams past high school. The film was a featured body of work of American Graduate.
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The report, which was written by Civic Enterprises and Hart Research Associates and released by GradNation campaign, highlights a vast number of facts and findings in relation to surveys conducted by the authors.
Some of the key findings included:
- 78% of young people surveyed say homelessness was something they experienced more than once.
- 67% (approx. two-thirds) say they were uncomfortable talking with people at their school about their housing situation and related challenges.
- 62% say proof of residency requirements and 56% say lack of cooperation between their new and old schools posed a major challenge for them while changing schools.
- As a subgroup, homeless students are one of the lowest graduating student populations in the nation -- 42% say they dropped out of school at least once.
With the passing of Every Student Succeeds Act – in coordination with the already established McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act – all states and school districts are required to report high school graduate rates for homeless students.
The report is aimed at raising awareness around this often overlooked student population.