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New Data Shows Foster Care Children Lag Behind Peers in Academic Success

A newly released study finds Arizona students in foster care fare worse academically than their peers, even those who are considered to be at risk because of other factors,  such as poverty, language barriers and learning disabilities.

The report, Arizona’s Invisible Achievement Gap, highlights a critical issue affecting foster children: disruptions have a devastating impact not only in their family lives, but also on educational progress that can affect them through adulthood. Using data from the 2012-2013 academic year, the report also found that only 61% of foster students met or exceeded reading standards, while only 40% met or exceeded standards in mathematics and graduation rates for foster children are 33%, less than half the state average (78%).

With nearly 19,000 kids (and rising) in Arizona’s foster care system, education needs of these students should be a high priority.  Some  obstacles to educational success for children living in foster care will be addressed through provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)  signed into law by President Obama last week. Provisions in the law include:

  • Immediate enrollment in a new school, even if prior academic records are delayed, the new school must contact the previous school right away to obtain the student’s files;
  • Designating a local point of contact for child welfare agencies that will act on foster care students’ behalf to ensure a seamless transition of records and services; and
  • Compiling data through the state that tracks foster care students’ achievement on an annual basis to track success.

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