Date of Award

5-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Mary Lynne Derrington

Committee Members

Lisa L. Driscoll, Terry T. Ishitani, Lisa Reyes Mason

Abstract

Homeless students are at risk for poor academic performance. The purpose of this descriptive research study was to investigate supportive academic services available to students in homeless facilities in Tennessee in order to better understand homeless facilities’ contributions to successful academic performance. Supportive academic services include the provision of basic needs, school supplies and work area, tutoring, supervised care, assistance in communication with schools, counseling services, transportation, community resources, student assessments, and case management. A revised version of Hicks-Coolick, Burnside-Eaton, and Peters’ survey (2003) was used to assess supportive academic services available to students residing in homeless facilities.

The sample consisted of 70 homeless facilities in Tennessee providing temporary housing to families with children. Data analyses examined frequencies, differences within the state, and gaps of academic support services within these facilities. The survey gathered information related to students, parents, and the homeless facilities’ staff members.

Across the state, food, assistance communicating with schools, and religious community resources were the most common academic support services identified. Differences in the services’ availability were identified based on regions of the state (West, Middle, East); setting (urban, rural, suburban); personnel’s educational level; and ages of the children and youth residing in the facilities.

Using the Gap Analysis Model, the researcher identified preschool childcare, supervised study time, after-school supervised care, and academic counseling as academic support services least provided by Tennessee homeless shelters. However, many of the service gaps may be bridged by local educational agencies receiving federal grants under the McKinney-Vento Act of 1987.

Lastly, findings from the original survey and the revised survey were compared. The two surveys were conducted more than 10 years apart and in two different states, yet similar findings were identified. Differences between the two studies underscored academic support services’ increased availability. As a result of the study, a united endeavor was recommended to increase communication and collaboration among policy makers, homeless facilities, school employees, and community resources to optimize homeless students’ academic success.

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