Schools confront a moving problem
Districts expect more students to switch campuses in weak economy
— Houston Chronicle2
Keeping track of students is a difficult challenge for teachers and principals at urban schools such as Bonham, where roughly one-third of children change campuses before the end of the year. Educators expect the little-discussed “mobility rate” to increase because of the sour economy.
The mobility rate — which reflects the number of children who spend less than 83 percent of the school year at the same campus — exceeds 20 percent statewide and 25 percent in the Houston Independent School District. Some of the hardest-hit campuses have rates near 40 percent.
The high turnover rates speak to the obstacles that low-income students — and, in turn, their schools — face. Poverty forces families to move for jobs or cheaper rent, sometimes as often as every few months. In other cases, children bounce between relatives and are asked to adjust to new schools along the way.
One of Boatner’s newest first-graders, for example, is already attending his seventh school.
Every time children change schools, they’re at risk of falling two to four months behind academically, said Jennifer Key, director of special populations for the Alief school district. Students who change schools frequently are also at greater risk of dropping out, research shows.
Almost as bad, Key said, are the social and emotional consequences.
2 = article may expire in a few weeks.