Foster youth present a unique challenge to educators. Probably the most famous former foster care child in the world right now is Simone Biles, already one of the more formidable and successful athletes in the history of American sports. As a big fan of women’s gymnastics, Biles has thrilled me with her accomplishments. The beauty coupled with the strength that she and her competitors display is simply awe-inspiring.
In addition to her success in Rio, I find her life story equally stirring. Simone Biles was born to an absent father and drug-addicted mother. She spent time in foster care before being adopted by her grandparents.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 400,000 children are in foster care in the United States. These children, as well as other highly mobile students such as homeless students and military-connected students, require additional attention to ensure their needs are met by our educational system.
Mobility can have an adverse impact on learning so states, districts, and schools need strategies keeping these students on a path to success. The Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA), requires states, for the first time, to report separately on academic outcomes for homeless students, foster youth, and military-connected students. These new requirements are an important step in ensuring that the needs of these vulnerable students are met. Data will be a critical component in serving these students.
EdWeek has published a series of articles on the specific needs and vulnerabilities of highly-mobile students. As part of that series, one article examines the challenges of measuring the academic growth of those students, including high-mobility, missing test scores and small group sizes. Simone Biles is a success story in more ways than one. She has beat all of the odds and reached tremendous success. Let’s help all students meet their full potential by using every resource available to meet them where they are.