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New Legislation Holds State Schools Accountable for Homeless Students

New Legislation Holds State Schools Accountable for Homeless Students

First-of-its-kind legislation approved in California is holding school districts accountable for the state's 310,000 population of homeless students, requiring schools to set goals and design plans to help these students.

"Homeless students now must be included specifically in school districts’ Local Control and Accountability Plans, or LCAPs, to show how their needs are being met. Districts then must track test scores and other measures of progress, which the state will also monitor," according to EdSource.org.

The legislation is partly in response to a 2014 report from The California Homeless Youth Project that revealed California has the largest population of homeless students with 4% of its students being homeless, the article said.

"Test scores for homeless students already are being collected under a federal law called the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act. But there are no specific requirements for school districts to do anything with those scores, so districts likely vary widely on how they address homeless students’ achievement, said Leanne Wheeler, the state’s homeless coordinator at the California Department of Education," according to EdSource.

California's largest school district, Los Angeles Unified District, already started creating more accountability for homeless students before the new legislation was passed.

It has dedicated $1.8 million to better serve its population of over 15,000 homeless students which will help increase the counselors and aids the district has available.

"Aides will assist with jobs such as distributing backpacks, transportation cards and food during the holidays. Counselors will be able to train staff in schools to help identify and help homeless students. For the first time, counselors will be assigned to reach out to shelters, as well," the article said.

Policymakers and educators in the state hope that the legislation and the increased efforts of districts will help them going forward best serve a growing homeless population that's twice the national average.

Read the full story here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

07/20/2015

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