Department of Educational Administration


First Advisor

Marilyn Grady

Date of this Version

Spring 4-19-2023

Document Type



Cummings, V. (2023). Support services and state standardized assessments for homeless and high mobility youth: A mixed methods case study [Doctoral Dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln]. ProQuest.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership and Higher Education), Under the Supervision of Professor Marilyn L. Grady. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2023

Copyright © 2023 Veronika M. Cummings


For the past decade, the number of homeless youth in the United States has drastically increased, with public schools now consistently serving over one million homeless students each year. Research spanning three decades has linked youth homelessness and poorer academic achievement. In addition to decreased academic achievement, homeless and highly mobile (HHM) youth are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, have a behavioral diagnosis, engage in high-risk behavior, be truant, abuse drugs and alcohol, and even face premature death. Because homelessness is also frequently misidentified as solely an urban problem, it often results in HHM youth being left underserved in many small, rural communities across the nation.

The purpose of the present explanatory sequential mixed methods case study was twofold: (1) to determine whether access to support services impacted achievement on English Language Arts, Mathematics, and ACT state standardized assessments for HHM students in three PreK-12 public school districts in the Midwest from 2016 through 2022, and (2) to address issues of social justice and equity by developing action plans with each district to institute systemic change by increasing support services for HHM students to improve performance on state standardized assessments.

The present study found that performance on state standardized assessments for HHM student populations varied greatly longitudinally and across the three districts, and that HHM student rates increased substantially in two out of the three districts post the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, it was found that all three districts provided a wide variety of support services for their HHM students, with the districts in rural locales providing a larger proportion of services compared to the suburban district. Implications and recommendations for future research were provided.

Advisor: Marilyn L. Grady