Shared Data Reveal the Invisible Achievement Gap of Students in Foster Care

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“In the absence of data, students in foster care tend to become invisible in the education system. How can we provide effective educational support to these students without knowing who they are or what their academic needs are?”—Vanessa Barrat, WestEd Senior Research Associate

For the last few years, The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd has been working toward bridging this data divide in California, the state with the largest number of children and youth in foster care. Through funding from the Stuart Foundation, WestEd staff and a number of partners brokered a first ever data-sharing agreement between the California Department of Social Services and the California Department of Education as a critical step toward better understanding and serving the academic needs of youth in foster care.

The initiative resulted in a recently released report, The Invisible Achievement Gap: Education Outcomes of Students in Foster Care in California’s Public Schools—a first-of-its-kind analysis linking statewide data from the child welfare and education systems, giving a fuller picture than ever before available of all K–12 students in the state’s foster care system.

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