Making the Long-Term Choice
Student Mobility and Performance Outcomes
Over the years, there has been a great deal of research completed on the effects of student mobility. Each year, there continues to be students transitioning between multiple schools before attending one school on count day. With the introduction of “choice” in education, parents have used the choice of mobility as leverage for getting their child a better grade or having their child assigned to a specific teacher, etc. This mobility has been proven over and over to have impacts on student performance. The value of “choice” in education is that parents can find the best environment for their child. However, the only way for that to be successful is for both the school and parents to work together to find the best solutions for the child.
Research outcomes of note include:
School turnover and student mobility have a large impact on student achievement, both on the student entering the school and his classmates. This is especially true for minority and low-income students. Charter school students might be particularly harmed from frequent school changes. Lacking a common curriculum across charter schools (which is a good thing), students are less likely to have a smooth transition from one school to another.
Hanushek, E., Kain, J. Rivkin, S. (2004) Distruption versus Tiebout improvement: the costs and benefits of switching schools. Journal of Public Economics. 88. 1721-1746.
“School mobility is defined as changing schools at times that are non-promotional (e.g., moving from middle to high school). We used detailed administrative data on North Carolina students and schools from 1997 to 2005 and followed four cohorts of 3rd graders for six years each. School mobility rates were highest for minority and disadvantaged students. School mobility rates for Hispanic students declined across successive cohorts, but increased for Black students. Findings on effects were most pronounced in math. School mobility hurt the math performance of Black and Hispanic students, but not the math performance of white students. School mobility improved the reading performance of white and more advantaged students, but had no effect on the reading performance of minority students. “Strategic” school moves (cross-district) benefitted or had no effect on student performance, but “reactive” moves (within district) hurt all groups of students. White and Hispanic students were more likely to move to a higher quality school while Blacks were more likely to move to a lower quality school. The negative effects of school mobility increased with the number of school moves.”
Zeyu Xu, Jane Hannaway, Stephanie D’Souza
Student Transience in North Carolina: The Effect of School Mobility on Student Outcomes Using Longitudinal Data CALDER Working Paper No. 22
Recent research has suggested that the timing of a move between schools has an important to student achievement. Students who change schools during the school year, or change schools between school years but not at an articulated time (i.e., from elementary to middle school) have larger negative impacts on their achievement than other students. The impacts are greater for minority and low-income students.
In 2011, Harvard Kennedy School Program on Education Policy and Governeance conducted a research study to assess the “Impact of Alternative Grade Configurations on Student Outcomes through Middle and High School”. The study examined the trends of student achievement as a student transitions between schools, even schools within a district.
The findings of the study suggest that “too many transitions can negatively impact the students performance”. Therefore “Choose a good school and work to stay with that choice”.