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 Transient Students

What does research tell us about how to support migrant students, students in juvenile detention centers, and students in foster care?


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.

School Practices to Support Immigrant Students

What does research tell us about practices to support students who are immigrants?

Expected August 2020

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

Supporting Students At-Risk of Dropping Out

What does research tell us about how to keep dropout numbers from spiking during this period?


Christopher Mazzeo | Education Northwest