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.

Supporting English Language Learners

What does research tell us about how to support English Language Learners?

Forthcoming

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