A. Education Data
National studies show that youth in foster care have poor educational outcomes when compared to their peers in the general population. Youth in foster care are more likely to be suspended or expelled, score lower on statewide standardized tests, repeat a grade, and to drop out, and are less likely to graduate. For more information on these studies, please see: National Working Group on Foster Care and Education (2014, January), “Fostering Success in Education: National Factsheet on the Educational Outcomes of Children in Foster Care”.
According to data collected by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) during the 2012-2013 school year, which captured the “leaver” status, the reason why a student left school, only 38.8 percent of Texas youth in foster care left because they graduated, compared to 72.4 percent of the general student population. During the same school year, the leaver status of students in foster care who left school because they dropped out was 28.6 percent, compared to 8.3 percent of the general student population. Youth in foster care in Texas also had lower high school achievement, were more likely to be served in special education programs, and were less likely to be in gifted and talented programs. For further detail, please see Data on Foster Children Attending Texas Public Schools.
Although many children experience educational challenges, students in foster care face additional hurdles, including multiple residential and school changes, missed school days for visits with parents and siblings, court appearances, or therapeutic or other case-related appointments that are only available during school hours, as well as an often chaotic educational, social, emotional, and family history prior to entering foster care.
Children and youth who are of school-age and in foster care may also find themselves lost in-between child welfare and education – two systems with overlap, but often inadequate ongoing and effective communication. If Texas judicial, child welfare, and education stakeholders coordinate efforts, especially during school transitions, students in foster care are less likely to experience a damaging loss of records, credits, services, and support systems, which can hinder academic success.