A voice and a
vision for Indiana’s
foster youth

In 2018, Indiana passed the first of its kind legislation to require the Indiana Department of Education to report on the education outcomes of students in foster care.

Earlier this year the IDOE released its report which information about almost 17,000 students in foster care across the state. Foster Success has worked to take the data further and break it down by county and school corporation. The results show that gaps in educational outcomes for foster youth persist and are present statewide regardless of the student’s age, race, gender, ethnicity, or location.

Across the state, students in
foster care were…


Twice as likely to be in special education classes.

Nearly one-third (32 percent) of students if foster care were in special education classes compared 16 percent of all students.


More than two times likely to be suspended than their peers

Students in foster care were 2.5 times more likely be suspended than students not in foster care (23 percent compared to nine percent).


Three times more likely to be retained in grade compared to all students.

Roughly three percent of students in foster care, compared with one percent of all students, were retained in grade (held back).


Expelled four times more often than their non-foster care peers.

One-quarter of a percent of all students were expelled from schools across across the state compared to more than 1 percent of students in 2 foster care.

Foster students as a percent of
student enrollment


of the foster students enrolled in public schools were in 40 school corporations across the state.

(about 10 percent of total public school corporations)


Marion County School Corporations Enrolled Almost One – Fifth Of The Followed by Lake and Allen Counties (each enrolling 6 percent).

Indiana Counties with the Highest Number of Students in Foster Care

Marion18.0 (2,903)14.3 (151,235)
Lake6.4 (1,301)7.6 (80,491)
Allen5.9 (950)5.2 (55,112)
Vanderburgh3.9 (627)2.2 (23,191)
St. Joseph3.3 (537)3.7 (138,902)
Delaware2.8 (457)1.4 (14,869)
Maddison2.5 (403)1.8 (18,636)
Vigo2.0 (324)1.4 (14,722)
Elkhart1.9 (305)3.4 (36,224)
Johnson1.8 (294)2.6 (27,225)

While urban counties tended to have larger numbers of students in foster care, rural counties typically had higher ratios (students in foster care / all students).

Indiana Counties with Enrollment Ratios of Students in Foster Care of 2.5 Percent or More


Half of Indiana’s rural counties had students in foster care enrolment ratios of two percent or more, compared to only one quarter of urban counties.

Foster youth underperform their non-foster care
peers on all state testing metrics



ISTEP+ Grade 10

IREAD-3 Passing Rates

(Overall and by Race/Ethnicity)

IREAD-3 passing rates were lower for all foster care student subgroups compared to all students within those subgroups except one (ELL students).
Only 61 percent of Black or African American students in foster care passed IREAD-3 compared to all students within those subgroups except one (ELL students).
Just half of foster students in special education passed the assessment, compared to 61 percent of all students in special education.
Less than three-quarters (73 percent) of male foster students passed the assessment, compared to 85 percent of all male students.


ILEARN Passing Rates by Grade

Foster youth are half as likely as all
students to pass the ILEARN E/LA
(23 percent of foster students compared to 47 percent overall)
In general, the passing rate for ILEARN E/LA is consistent or increases by grade; however, for students in foster care the passing rate is consistent or decreases each year – further widening the achievement gap between students in foster care and their non-foster care peers
While ILEARN Math passing rates for all student decrease by grade, passing rates for students in foster care decrease at a more rapid pace, further widening the achievement gap between students in foster
care and all others.

ISTEP+ Grade 10 Math Passing Rates

(Overall and by Race/Ethnicity)

Performance gaps were present between foster students and their peers within every subcategory examined for both ISTEP+ Grade 10 E/LA and Math.
Students in foster care are half as likely to pass ISTEP+ Grade 10 E/LA compared to all students (29 percent compared to 62
percent). Only 20 percent of Black or African American foster students passed ISTEP+ Grade 10 E/LA, compared to 37 percent of all Black students and 68 percent of all White
Passing rates for ISTEP+ Math were five times lower for foster students (seven percent compared to 35 percent)..

Graduation rates for foster students
lagged their peers in all subgroups.


55 Percent Of Foster Youth Graduated From High School

Compared to 87% of all students.

You can’t separate
Education & Success.

A diploma isn’t enough

Education achievement at an early age is a key indicator of success after high school. Not only does a high school diploma represent a significant milestone for young adults, students who complete high school increase their likelihood for positive economic outcomes and self-sufficiency later in life. Receiving a diploma is not enough though.

According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Indiana students who earned Honors diplomas were far more
likely to enroll in postsecondary education immediately after high school than those earning only a General diploma (91 percent of Honors recipients compared to just 15 percent of General diploma recipients).

“Acknowledge the data in the report. The lack of success of students in foster care, and the lack of success of many other students, indicate not that our kids are failing, but that our education system is failing.”

– School Based Foster Care Point of Contact

Read More

For an overview of the findings and recommendations, read the summary here. For a more complete analysis of the data, disaggregating the data by race, ethnicity, gender, location, learning needs, and grade level, read the full report here.

Foster Success

Foster Success

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