The 74: The Homeless Student Population Is Exploding. Will New Focus on Performance Save Them?

“Every time a student transfers to a new school, they’re set back academically by up to six months, according to a recent report by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness, and homeless students in New York City transfer to new schools about three times as often as children with stable housing.

Chronic absenteeism is a key predictor of student achievement, with homeless students twice as likely to miss 20 or more days of school in a single year. In fact, roughly two thirds of students in shelters are either “chronically absent” or “severely chronically absent,” according to the Independent Budget Office. Those who were “severely” absent missed more than 80 percent of school days.
But possibly the most interesting — and distressing — finding from the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness study is that even students who found a place to live and were no longer homeless performed no better than their classmates who were still displaced, said Principal Policy Analyst Jennifer Erb-Downward.
‘I think the takeaway there is that there’s just an incredible amount of instability and disruption while they’re homeless,” Erb-Downward said. “The instability these kids experience really sets the stage for these lasting impacts.’
On the flip side, while all New York City homeless students are dropping out of school at twice the citywide average, those students who lived in a homeless shelter for all four years of high school had dropout rates similar to students with stable housing.”
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