Graduate Student Dissertations, Theses, Capstones, and Portfolios

Date of Award


Document Type


Granting Institution

Lynn University

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EDD)

Degree Program

Educational Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Nancy Kline

Second Advisor

Jennifer J. Lesh

Third Advisor

Joe Melita


In recent years, the legal landscape has changed to support a framework that guarantees educational stability to foster care students as a subgroup facing myriad adverse developmental outcomes and risk factors that impede academic achievement. In 2013, California has discovered an invisible achievement gap among this distinct subgroup with unrecognized and unmet educational needs. Nationwide, the trend has not been different, prompting a need to get insight into the school setting in Florida to meet the needs of foster care students.

The literature review has suggested that foster care students remain invisible to teachers and have unmet, unstudied, and unrecognizable educational needs. They have the highest mobility rate, experienced trauma in their lives, and are ill-prepared for independent life. The system of care – made of several agencies involved in their lives – is described as dysfunctional.

This research has investigated current K-12 school settings in South Florida through semi-structured interviews with seasoned dependency case workers, subject matter experts, and successful foster care alumni to identify effective strategies to mitigate adverse consequences of traumatic experiences, school instability to ensure equitable educational opportunities to foster students and thereby reduce the achievement gap.

The study has also looked at a historic commitment to comprehensive educational opportunity as a right and a national goal and the need for schools to be accountable to increase student achievement in proposing a distributive and participative model of leadership for a paradigm shift that would lead to organizational synergy for improved performance, ongoing assessment, and professional development consistent with the challenge.



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