Passports to Success

Assuring Positive Educational Experiences
For Children in Out-of-home Care

Module 1: Page 8 of 10

What is the achievement gap for Wisconsin students in out-of-home care?

National studies have identified an achievement gap between students in out-of-home care and students in the general population. How about children in out-of-home care in Wisconsin? How are they doing in school?

To answer that question, let’s take a look at some data. The graphs below synthesize and communicate findings from a joint study conducted in 2012 by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The study represents a significant collaboration between the two departments to identify needs in both systems.

The out-of-home care data set in the graphs include all Wisconsin children who:

  • are between the ages of 7 and 18,
  • have been removed in the 2008-2009 school year, and
  • are in out-of-home care for at least three months

Click on each of the categories at the left to view the corresponding graph. Scroll over the graph bars for a larger view of the values.



The expulsion rates for grades kindergarten through fifth are almost non-existent. However, when we look at students in the upper grades, the expulsion rate jumps, and the difference between students in out-of-home care and students in the general population is significant – over 7 times more for out-of-home care students in grades 6-8 and over 12 times more for out-of-home care students in grades 9-12.

What does all of this data mean?

Children and youth in out of home care in Wisconsin have significant unmet educational needs. They miss more school, are behind academically, and are suspended or expelled more frequently. Finding pathways for these students to be successful in school is critically important. They often have a less reliable permanent support system than kids in the general population and need a strong education in order to support themselves as adults and to believe in their own competence and ability to achieve. School can be a lifeline for them.


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