What is the reality of student mobility in Ohio? Fordham study will find out

More students move between Columbus City Schools and
neighboring school districts than move between the district and area charter
schools, according to data from Community
Research Partners
(reported in today’s
Columbus Dispatch).

This is sure to come as a surprise to many, given the
decade-long cry from Ohio’s school districts about charter schools “stealing” their
students (and funding).  But it’s no
surprise to us at Fordham.  Last year, we
commissioned a study
of student mobility
in our hometown of Dayton.  Among the many findings:

Far more students moved among Montgomery County
districts, or left the county altogether, than moved between Dayton Public
Schools and the city’s charter schools.

No charter school or district was “creaming”
good students.  High-performing and
low-performing students alike were mobile, and families didn’t appear to be
selecting new schools based on the school’s academic performance.

The greatest indicator of a student’s mobility
was his/her score on the state’s third-grade reading test.  The lower the score, the more likely the
child was to be highly mobile.

Our Dayton study generated much conversation and debate in
the city around questions like, “If nearly half of our students will attend
several different schools between kindergarten and fifth grade, should we have
a city-wide elementary curriculum to provide education stability?” and “How
should we develop and amend the state’s school- and teacher-accountability
provisions to properly account for the challenges of mobility?”

The findings from our Dayton study led us to launch a
statewide student mobility study in the Buckeye State.  Toward this end, the data referenced in
today’s Dispatch is drawn from the initial
work on that study to be conducted by Community Research Partners (CRP). The
statewide analysis of student mobility will be out later in 2012.  In the meantime, here is what we know about
mobility in Columbus, based on CRP’s pilot:

One of every four Columbus students moved in or
out of the district over the past three years (to say nothing of mobility among
schools within the district).

Most students transferred (3,488 times) to or
from South-Western City Schools (a growing urban district on the city’s south

More than 2,500 students switched between
Columbus City Schools and the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (the state’s
largest online school).

The statewide mobility study will go deeper, examining
trends for Ohio’s major metro areas and large e-schools, connecting mobility
data with data on students’ academic performance and discipline records, and
more.  We, and the research team at CRP, hope
to provide both interesting and informative data along with sound policy
recommendations for legislators and state leaders grappling with issues of
school funding and accountability, for local education leaders who guide
curriculum and instruction, and for parents and community members who want to
better understand who attends school where, and why.  Stay tuned to Ohio Gadfly Daily for more!

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