The Use of Educational Portfolios to Effectively Communicate and Monitor the Educational Needs of Students Living in Foster Care

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Curriculum and Instruction

Date of Award

Spring 2015


Each year, an estimated half million foster children and youth are served by three state systems simultaneously. These are comprised of the judicial, social welfare and education systems. Foster children and youth are placed into the court system following an investigation by a social welfare agency that determined it was in the ??╖best interest of the child/youth??? to be removed from their family home. The precipitation of these life-altering decisions by the court and social welfare systems are typically initiated when documented evidence exists that demonstrates that the child/youth have experienced abuse and/or negligence within their family circle. One ramification of the child???s transition to a non-familial living arrangement established by the court child protective service agency is the impact on the school-aged child/youth???s ability to continue their education without detriment to their scholastic achievement. This is a hefty weight of responsibility. In the past, strained relationships between the child welfare agencies and schools were the norm. In the last decade, a pronounced and profound shift has emerged, one in which all three systems are working conjointly to address and avert the potential ravages that could develop for foster children/youth when they are faced with numerous challenges to their overall well-being, including the comprehensive overhaul of policies relating to education outcomes for foster children and youth. The risk to a foster child???/youth???s success in school is recognized as one of the potential factors contributing to additional struggles facing students living in foster care. In an effort to minimize the potential risk for foster children and youth to fail in school, Texas legislators, judges, child welfare workers, foster parents, and educators have joined forces to identify ways to improve educational outcomes of children living in foster care. The establishment of education portfolios occurred when state legislators signed into law Senate Bill 6 in 2006, which required the collection of pertinent artifacts for each foster child. This study examined the perspectives of two significant groups of adults who care for foster children and youth; foster parents and CASA volunteers. Each of these two groups of adults has a unique vantage point because of their roles and responsibilities through personal relationships with foster children and youth. One role of the foster parent is to gather artifacts and maintain the educational portfolio. The CASA volunteers advocate for the foster children in the courtroom, reporting directly to the judge on matters related to the foster child???s progress in school. The purpose of this research study was to ascertain if educational portfolios are effective in communicating and monitoring the educational needs of students living in foster care. Using a phenomenological approach, the researcher investigated the foster parents and CASA volunteers??? perceptions of the educational portfolio as a means to communicate and monitor learning outcomes for the foster child they serve. Additionally, the study participants shared their beliefs on whether or not the educational portfolio facilitated their understanding of the foster child???s educational needs. The results of the research indicated that foster parents feel that gathering the required documents and artifacts for the educational portfolios to be a worthwhile use of their time and effort. Additionally, both the foster parents and the CASA volunteers believed that the educational portfolio is an effective communication tool, and that the documents contained within the educational portfolio aided them in developing a deeper understanding of the educational needs of the foster child in their care.


Susan Szabo

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education