Educating homeless and highly mobile students: Implications of research on risk and resilience

Ann S. Masten, Aria E. Fiat, Madelyn H. Labella, Ryan A. Strack

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Homelessness among children in poverty continues to confront schools, educators, and policymakers with major challenges. This commentary summarizes findings from 2 decades of research on academic risk and resilience in children experiencing homelessness. Recent research corroborates the early conclusion that although children experiencing homelessness share many risks with other disadvantaged children, they fall higher on a continuum of cumulative risk. Research also indicates resilience, with many homeless students succeeding in school. Implications for educational practice, training, research, and policy are discussed, particularly regarding school psychology. Evidence underscores the importance of identification, assessment, and administrative data; outreach and communication to ensure that mandated educational rights of homeless children are met; and coordinating education across schools and systems to provide continuity of services and learning. Early childhood education, screening, and access to quality programs are important for preventing achievement disparities that emerge early and persist among these students. Additional research is needed to inform, improve, and evaluate interventions to mitigate risk and promote school success of students facing homelessness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-330
Number of pages16
JournalSchool Psychology Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research described in this article was supported by grants to the University of Minnesota (Ann S. Masten, Principal Investigator or Project Director) from the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, the Institute of Education Sciences (R305A110528), and the National Science Foundation, as well as by assistance from the Research, Evaluation, and Assessment Department of the Minneapolis Public Schools. Preparation of this article was also supported by a predoctoral fellowship awarded to Madelyn H. Labella from the National Science Foundation. The conclusions and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not represent the views of any funding agencies or collaborating organizations. The second, third, and fourth coauthors contributed equally to this article and are listed in alphabetical order. The authors are deeply grateful for the participation and support of all the families, principals, and teachers who made this research possible and for the contributions of the many colleagues who collaborated with them on this research over the years, including many talented graduate students cited throughout this report. The authors express special thanks to Alex Chan, Christopher Desjardins, Daniel Gumnit, David Heistad, Becky Hicks, Elizabeth Hinz, Margo Hurrle, Jeff Long, and Maureen Seiwert.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright 2015 by the National Association of School Psychologists.


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