Through a project with the Colorado Department of Education and the National Center for School Engagement, district Outreach Counselor Dr. Laurie Smith, Ferguson High School Principal Jim Neigherbauer and Interfaith Hospitality Network Executive Director Annmarie Arbo studied the issue of homelessness and high mobility at Ferguson High School and Angel House. The study, using qualitative research gathered through interviews with students and families, was done during the 2006-2007 school year.
The results of this study led to a quantitative study, with the assistance of Dr. Gene Gloeckner from Colorado State University, of all Thompson School District high schools during the 2007-2008 school year. The second study focused on the definitions of homelessness under the McKinney-Vento Act, which requires schools to meet the educational needs of homeless students.
“Overall, the district should be proud to be a leader in recognizing the severity of the homeless and poverty issues not isolated to urban areas. We recommend further publication of these data to show the clear national leadership of the Thompson School District,” said Gloeckner.
Approximately 50 percent of Thompson School District high school students took the unanimous online survey regarding homelessness during the 2007-2008 school year.
Survey results include:
- Twenty-four percent of high school students indicate they have been homeless at some point during their high school years.
- The number of high school students who have been homeless is more than five times what has been previously reported to district schools.
- Students who have been homeless indicate it is highly unlikely they would report their homelessness to a teacher, counselor or school administrator.
- A positive correlation was found between students who transfer to different schools and their homelessness.
- A positive correlation in the results indicates students who transfer schools more often are likely to have lived with parents or family members in more of the homeless categories included by definition of the McKinney-Vento Act.
The report will be discussed with the Thompson School District Board of Education at a future board of education study session.