Identifying And Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness

Alexandra Pavlakis, J. Kessa Roberts, Meredith Richards | Southern Methodist University
Kathryn Hill, Zitsi Mirakhur | Research Alliance for New York City Schools

Breaking Down the Issue

  • Homelessness is not a uniform experience.
  • Even before the pandemic, student homelessness was increasing, and many schools were struggling to respond.
  • Students experiencing homelessness may be particularly vulnerable to health-, wellbeing-, and education-related adversity brought on or exacerbated by the pandemic.

Strategies to Consider

  • To successfully implement the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, schools should prioritize proactive identification and consider fostering an environment that frames policy supports as rights for students.
  • Collaborations and data sharing with community providers can improve identification of students experiencing homelessness and ease access to resources and supports for families.
  • Regular communication to build relationships with student-identified networks of trusted adults allows schools to tailor practices and supports in ways that meet individual needs.
  • When weighing the risks and benefits of various models for reopening schools in the fall, plans must consider local COVID-19 conditions, available funding, and the realities of students’ home environments.

Strategies to Avoid

  • Deficit-oriented and stigmatizing practices may have adverse short- and long-term consequences for students and their families.

Supporting Students in Foster Care

What does research tell us about how to best support students impacted by foster care?

Forthcoming

Mauriell Amechi | Old Dominion University
Ivory Bennett | Concordia University Texas
Mary Rauktis | University of Pittsburgh

Academic Supports for Students with Disabilities

Nate Jones | Boston University
Sharon Vaughn | University of Texas at Austin
Lynn Fuchs | Vanderbilt University

Breaking Down the Issue

  • All current federal guidance indicates that, even during Covid-19 stay-at-home orders, schools still need to provide students with disabilities an education that a) is individualized and b) ensures they make appropriate progress.
  • Students with disabilities are one of the student populations likely to have regressed the most during COVID-related distance learning.
  • The single most important service schools provide for students with disabilities is additional intervention time devoted to students’ specific areas of need.

Strategies to Consider

  • Small-group or one-to-one intervention 3-5 times per week is a proven way to meet individualized needs.
  • Many features of effective academic and behavioral interventions may still be successfully delivered in a distance learning setting.
  • Interventions need to be supported by regularly collecting student data, focusing on skills and concepts known to predict academic or behavioral outcomes, and using these data to make instructional decisions.
  • Special educators’ time is best used for the delivery of interventions in small groups or one-on-one.

Strategies to Avoid

  • Co-teaching, an approach where special educators support students with disabilities in the general education classroom, will likely be insufficient to meet students with disabilities’ current needs.
  • Parents and guardians cannot be the primary providers of students’ educational and/or behavioral interventions.
  • Postponing evaluations that determine eligibility for special education services will likely lead to more severe student difficulties in the future.

Support for Students in Immigrant Families

Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj | University of California-Santa Barbara
Adam Strom | Re-Imagining Migration
Veronica Boix Mansilla | Harvard University

Breaking Down the Issue

  • Immigrant-origin children are the fastest growing segment of the school-age population in the U.S.
  • Immigrant communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in terms of loss of employment, representation among frontline and essential workers, and rates of illness.
  • Immigrant-origin students tend to have lower access to at-home resources that might support their learning during the pandemic.

Strategies to Consider

  • Culturally-relevant communications with students and families in multiple languages and formats may increase family and caregiver involvement, improve home-school connections, and improve student engagement.
  • Immigrant-origin students who receive extracurricular programmatic supports to complete at-home learning activities and assignments show greater academic progress.
  • Schools that provide information and guidance about immigrants’ legal and educational rights and available services can be instrumental in supporting immigrant students’ school engagement and success.
  • Schools that embrace and incorporate the diversity of languages, identities, cultures, and family practices represented in their communities benefit from increased engagement and cross-cultural learning.
  • For immigrant-origin students to thrive, districts must know about and take seriously anti immigrant hate and address student trauma.

Strategies to Avoid

  • New modes of schooling create new concerns and exacerbate existing challenges around privacy and immigration status.
  • Failure to acknowledge and attend to the basic and socioemotional needs of children in immigrant families who may be experiencing additional stressors related to immigration experiences or undocumented status misses a critical aspect of ensuring students’ wellbeing and readiness to learn.

Supports For Students Who Are English Learners

Maddy Mavrogordato | Michigan State University
Rebecca Callahan | The University of Texas at Austin
David DeMatthews | The University of Texas at Austin
Elena Izquierdo | The University of Texas, El Paso

Breaking Down the Issue

  • EL students are a rapidly growing and diverse population entitled to English language development instruction that will allow meaningful access to academic content.
  • Complex federal laws govern the education of EL students and continue to hold state and local education agencies accountable for their academic performance even during the pandemic.
  • School leader and teacher training rarely provides sufficient support for how to meet the unique needs of EL students.

Strategies to Consider

  • Concrete steps to embrace the cultural and linguistic assets of EL students, families, and communities can lead to higher levels of trust and engagement among all stakeholders and improve students’ academic identity and achievement.
  • Continuous professional learning, inquiry, and collaboration between EL and general education teachers can improve instruction for EL students.
  • High-quality instructional resources designed specifically for EL students coupled with carefully selected technologies can increase student achievement and language proficiency.
  • Attendance monitoring systems coupled with targeted outreach efforts in students’ native language can help improve attendance for all students, but particularly ELs.
  • Additional funding for EL students provided through Title III and the CARES Act can be invested in key strategies such as extended learning time and small group tutoring.

Strategies to Avoid

  • Even prior to the financial strain caused by the pandemic, there have been concerns about districts diverting funding earmarked for EL students to other uses.
  • Mere translation of content is insufficient to meet EL students’ needs.