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Research shows

Kids in doubled-up housing risk low grades

New York Teacher

Living doubled-up with friends, extended family members or others is a form of homelessness that can go undetected by schools, yet the toll it takes on students is significant, new research finds.

Students who live in doubled-up housing arrangements earn significantly lower grades and are less likely to graduate on time than poor students living in permanent housing, according to an article in the journal Education and Urban Society.

Researchers Justin Low, Ronald Hallett and Elaine Mo from the University of the Pacific studied records from a Northern California school district serving about 13,000 students, of which 80 percent qualified for free or reduced price lunch and 14 percent were classified as homeless.

The researchers found that the year that students lose their permanent housing and have to move in with others is the most critical. During this first year, grades drop the most, with girls seeing a bigger drop than boys, and truancy rates spike. While being doubled up had no impact on suspension and detention rates, the likelihood of being expelled was significantly higher for doubled-up students, the study found.

In New York City, 111,000 homeless students attend New York City schools, accounting for about one in every 10 students. Of that total, 44 percent live in doubled-up housing. Some city schools and districts have an intense concentration of homeless students, with as many as 10,000 homeless students in District 10 alone in the Bronx.

Researchers suggest schools regularly publicize the social services they offer for homeless students. In particular, they said, providing intervention services as early as possible to doubled-up students could soften the blow to grades.