Homeless Children: Update on Research, Policy, Programs, and Opportunities. School mobility


School mobility is, of course, related to residential mobility and thereby difficult to tease apart. Like residential mobility, school mobility is associated with poverty (e.g., Evans et al., 2010). Studies consistently find that school mobility is associated with lower academic achievement when there are no controls for achievement prior to the moves. However, the small number of studies where achievement is measured during (Buckner, Bassuk, & Weinreb, 2001), or both

before and after the onset of mobility (e.g., Heinlein & Shinn, 2000), do not show clear effects of mobility between the two waves of data collection. Thus, school mobility, like residential mobility, may be more of a marker of a constellation of adverse conditions rather than an independent cause of poor outcomes. Nonetheless, stable schooling may serve as an anchor for children who experience other forms of instability.

Homeless children may be more likely than other children to experience school mobility in the midst of a school year, when they are confronted with new curricular demands as well as a new set of peers and teachers. Thus it is plausible that midyear moves are more problematic than moves over the summer. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act requires that homeless children be allowed to stay in their school of origin if that is in the child’s best interest, and that school districts provide transportation to that school if requested by the child’s parent or guardian. Nevertheless, LEAs continue to report that transportation is the top barrier to access to education for homeless children (NCHE, 2009).

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