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Being Seen: An Analysis of Fifth Grade Language Arts Textbooks' Representation of Children Experiencing Homelessness

Abbott, Kellie G. (2022) Being Seen: An Analysis of Fifth Grade Language Arts Textbooks' Representation of Children Experiencing Homelessness. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation was designed to explore how children who are experiencing homelessness encounter examples of their lived experience within the pages of their reading basals. The study included a comprehensive review of the literature related to the criteria used to identify families and children as homeless, as well as demographic overview of the population and the academic indicators achieved. A focus was developed to review three national textbook series, as used in the fifth grade language arts curriculum in six districts in Western Pennsylvania.

This study concentrated on reviewing the fifth grade language art textbooks from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the American Reading Company, and McGraw Hill. Each text was analyzed to determine if it included any texts that had a person experiencing homelessness, particularly a child. If the text included a story, an in-depth analysis was completed to determine the authenticity of the portrayal. Additionally, six districts were identified that used these textbooks, and data were gathered to create a profile of each including census data, income data, and number of students experiencing homelessness.

Results from the study indicate that school leaders need to plan purposefully for the inclusion of stories, novels, and thematic studies that include characters who are experiencing homelessness and housing issues because the national textbook companies are not. Students deserve to see themselves reflected in the texts that they read and to encounter stories that inform and empower.

Finally, schools need to embrace their role as a vaccine against homelessness by proactively planning for how they will work with families who are experiencing housing instability. The work begins with admission procedures that are supportive and respectful of a family who is enrolling without secure housing. It builds with induction and professional development; teaching teachers and staff the possible signs a child is experiencing homelessness. It is reflected in the policies that enable children to receive the appropriate transportation and ensures that children have the supplies and supports they need to be successful.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Abbott, Kellie G.abbottkg@gmail.comKGA7
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTrovato,
Committee MemberMcClure,
Committee MemberVan Shura, Mary
Date: 6 September 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 June 2022
Approval Date: 6 September 2022
Submission Date: 12 August 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 80
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: school leadership
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2022 15:17
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2022 15:17


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