Homeless Students in America’s Public Schools

Posted by America's Promise Alliance on July 10, 2017

[posted from NCAN Blog]

In June 2016, GradNation released the report “Hidden in Plain Sight,” which focuses on homeless students in our public schools. More than 1.3 million students were reported as homeless in the 2013-14 academic year, double the number from the 2006-07 academic year. The report explains how this “invisible” problem is disruptive for these students, who are far more likely to drop out of high school than their non-homeless peers are.


Now, GradNation has published state report cards that provide several data points related to homeless students within each state, including national and state data showing how the number of homeless students is increasing each year. The state reports also break down the number of students who are homeless or at risk of being so who filed a FAFSA and are enrolled in public schools.


Reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) included additional reporting requirements regarding homeless students, and districts must now calculate their graduation rates. According to “Hidden in Plain Sight,” students experiencing homelessness are:

  • More likely to be held back at grade levels
  • More likely to experience absenteeism
  • Disproportionately minority or LGBTQ students
  • More likely to perform below grade level in English and Math (75% do so)
  • Experiencing higher rates of learning disabilities and emotional difficulties

Data and information such as that in the state report cards is helpful in providing context for the students you serve, as it can inform you of the variety of challenges associated with serving this population of students. NCAN applauds the effort of getting these state report cards released and looks forward to continued learning to ensure this fragile population gets the services they deserve and need.

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