Switching schools affects student achievement, study

Jul 06, 2009 by Carol C. Bradley

(PhysOrg.com) -- Picture a kindergarten classroom of 20 students. By the time that class finishes fourth grade, only six students—30 percent—will have been continuously enrolled in the same school.

That kind of mobility is creating academic problems for the students who move, but it’s also a problem for those who remain, according to Jennifer Warlick, professor of economics and policy studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Warlick has been investigating the rate of school switching in South Bend—and the impact of changing schools on student achievement—with funding from a Rodney F. Ganey Collaborative Community-Based Research Mini-Grant, assisted by students in her “Economics of Education” class and her research assistant, undergraduate economics major Nick Krafft.

Using statistics the South Bend Community School Corp. (SBCSC) supplies to the Indiana Department of Education, a research analysis of data on 2,120 students has shown that of students who started kindergarten in 2003-04, only 30 percent of the students remained at the same school through fourth grade.

“Just over 11 percent changed schools at least once, but only during the summer,” Warlick said. “The remaining 59 percent changed schools—during the school year—at least once over the five years.”

Additionally, some students have been identified as “frequent movers”—a first grader who’s already been in three different schools, for example.

While students who change schools, especially frequent movers, can suffer psychologically, socially and academically, another important finding is that academic achievement of the “stable core”—the 30 percent of students who stay in one school—is also negatively affected by the school’s mobility rate.

It’s the result of what Warlick’s students Claire Smither and Ben Clarke, in a paper published in the Journal of Undergraduate Research, identify as “the chaos factor,” a term borrowed from the research of Russell Rumberger from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

New students coming into the classroom require more time from the teacher, decreasing teacher availability for the rest of the class, they note; routines are disrupted as the pace of instruction slows to accommodate new students, who may be behind in the curriculum.

The negative correlation between and school switching is crucial information, Warlick notes. The SBCSC has a significant number of schools that are in the fourth year of non-compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act because of low test scores.

“That pressure makes us interested not just at the individual level—we all want children to learn more,” she says. “The question is, if we reduce mobility, could we not only help students, but bring the schools into compliance?”

Warlick is working on a follow-up grant proposal that will potentially reduce student mobility, but also will require a change in school corporation policy—the grant would guarantee transportation, so that any child who starts at a could stay there, even if the family moves across district lines. Test scores will be compared with those at schools where students moved away to determine if reducing mobility increases test scores.

Based on the results of the Ganey mini-grant research, Warlick and SBCSC officials already are implementing strategies to reduce student mobility—the first steps being the establishment of uniform withdrawal and enrollment procedures across schools, and the creation of posters and brochures to educate parents, before they decide to move.

“We need to tell people how detrimental it is to switch schools,” Warlick says. “We want to let people know how much they may be hurting their children. It puts kids behind, and they may never catch up.”

Provided by University of Notre Dame (news : web)

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Relationships Improve Student Success

Jun 29, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- When students are underachieving, school policymakers often examine class size, curriculum and funding, but University of Missouri researchers suggest establishing relationships may be a powerful ...

Attitude determines student success in rural schools

Jun 20, 2008

[B]Study investigates qualities of high-achieving schools[/B] While most of the country focuses on ACT scores, student-teacher ratio and rigorous curriculum to increase student success, it may be the commitment to excellence tha ...

Study: Teachers choose schools according to student race

May 27, 2009

A study forthcoming in the Journal of Labor Economics suggests that high-quality teachers tend to leave schools that experience inflows of black students. According to the study's author, C. Kirabo Jackson (Cornell Univer ...

As graduation rates go down, school ratings go up

Feb 14, 2008

A new study by researchers at Rice University and the University of Texas-Austin finds that Texas' public school accountability system, the model for the national No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), directly contributes to lower ...

Drug testing in schools up

Jul 12, 2006

Higher funding and the lowering of legal constraints are encouraging more U.S. schools to test students for use of illegal drugs.

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 07, 2009
I moved my daughter a lot - she remains at the top of her class - but I did move her to a private school iin mid-6. In Kanada where the motto is "NO teacher left behind" - the purpose is to provide union conditions to hide poor performance.

But it is only one case I know - Cheers

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.