Students Experiencing Homelessness in Washington’s K–12 Public Schools: Trends, Characteristics, and Academic Outcomes, 2015 through 2019

Published: June 24, 2021

Building Changes analyzed state data for five school years in this updated annual report on Students Experiencing Homelessness in Washington’s K-12 Public Schools. This dataset includes the last full academic year before the pandemic and will provide baseline information on student homelessness in Washington. The pandemic has shifted the ways schools approached outreach, learning, testing, and discipline, and we will continue to observe the many ways COVID-19 has impacted students across the state.

The report identifies six key findings:

  1. Student homelessness in Washington remains high—more than 40,000 students in the state’s K-12 public schools experienced homelessness.
  2. Students of color continue to experience homelessness at a disproportionate rate compared to the overall student population.
  3. Rural locations still have the highest per-capita rate of student homelessness while cities have the largest number of students experiencing homelessness.
  4. Academic outcomes for students experiencing homelessness remain well below those of students who are housed.
  5. Social-emotional learning outcomes worsened for students experiencing homelessness compared to their housed peers.
  6. Students who were identified as living in doubled-up situations had similar academic outcomes as those living in hotels, motels and shelters, and those who were living unsheltered.

A companion to the report, our updated Local Data and Outcomes Dashboards provide data on the characteristics and outcomes of students experiencing homelessness during the 2018-19 school year, summarized statewide and by school district, legislative district, and county.

An overall view of student homelessness in Washington is crucial for schools, organizations, and government agencies to identify where improvements can be made to provide enhanced supports that will better serve students experiencing homelessness.

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