California Educator

August 2015

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Tips on improving the academic performance of homeless students • Provide clear, achievable expectations. Assemble a packet with information and expectations for each class. • Offer tutoring. Thirty or 40 minutes a few times a week can dramatically increase a homeless child's achieve- ment level. • Be aware that each school move can delay academic progress and that many homeless students find it more difficult to engage and learn because of their prior negative school experiences. • Be flexible with assignments. Projects requiring materials that students can- not afford might be difficult or impos- sible to complete, as can assignments to write about a summer vacation, conduct a backyard science project, construct a family tree, or bring in a baby picture. Instead, offer several alternatives from which all students can choose. • Allow students to finish assignments independently or at their own pace. • Create a portfolio to document the student's work, personal characteris- tics and preferred learning style. If the student must transfer, the portfolio offers the next teacher a quick, easy way to pick up where the former teacher left off. • Rather than interpreting parental absences as a lack of commitment to their children's education, ask families what you can do to support an ongo- ing partnership. Phone conferences might be a good alternative. Initiating an interactive journal with the parent about what's happening at school and at home could help with teacher- parent dialogue. • Offer after-hours (evening or Saturday) and off-site parent meetings. • Talk with parents about class expecta- tions and the challenges of changing schools midyear. Source: National Center for Homeless Education — so their situations go "above and beyond low-income. The new law is a step in the right direction." Hyatt notes that among the top 10 districts with the most homeless stu- dents, Long Beach Unified is the only one that tracked homeless students as a group before passage of the law. EXAMPLES OF WHAT'S WORKING Most districts completed their LCAPs for this year before the law went into effect. Even so, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), according to LA School Report, has earmarked $1.8 million in its 2015 -16 LCAP to help homeless students through its Homeless Education Program. The funds will be used to increase the program's number of counselors from seven to 19, and double the number of aides to four. LAUSD's homeless student pop- ulation is estimated at 16,000, so the additional staffing will help with outreach and training, particularly in identifying homeless students and handling individuals and families with sensitivity. It will also help move donated goods more quickly to those in need. "LAUSD does an amazing job of education awareness in schools and communities," Hyatt says. She points to several individual efforts that are helping bring attention to the issue. "Melissa Schoonmaker [LAUSD pupil services and atten- dance coordinator] makes shirts and bracelets to raise visibility." And in Santa Cruz County, where according to United Way 4,200 K -12 c h i l d re n a re h o m e l e s s , " N o h e m i Macias [the county office of edu- cation's homeless student liaison] volunteers in the county's biannual homelessness census one night in June. She uses her experience to train school staff." For more resources, see the National Center for Homeless Education at 49 V O L U M E 2 0 I S S U E 1 CSUN's online Master of Arts in EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION is an award-winning program that prepares K-12 educators for a variety of leadership positions, including Princi- pals, Superintendents, Department Heads, Program Managers, Directors, Site Administrators and more. Designed to help teachers transform education. • 2 year program, 100% online • Flexible schedule for working adults • Exceptional support services Apply Now For Spring 2016 SHAPE EDUCATION from Beyond the Classroom Get more information

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