Monday, November 26, 2012

Is "school shopping" good for all students?

A new study may hint that "shopping around for schools," something that so-called education reformers like Michigan's Oxford Foundation want to expand even more opportunities to do, especially in lower-performing urban areas, may not be in the best interest of all students.

High student mobility can be hard on kids because it forces them to play a constant game of catch-up, academically and socially. The study shows that the more often kids move, the lower they score on state tests.

It's also a problem for teachers and school systems. Teachers spend extra time figuring out the new students' history and academic needs, Barnett said, which can take time away from other kids. A revolving door of students also makes it hard for districts to plan how many teachers to hire. If students perform poorly on state tests, it can hurt districts' academic ratings.

The study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Community Research Partners found that student mobility is common, even in suburban and rural schools. In poor city neighborhoods, it "verges on the epidemic," according to the study.
While mobility on a limited basis may not be harmful to all students, especially those who come from advantaged homes with a strong support net, having the "freedom" to shop around for a particular school, classroom or teacher may prove harmful to children who already experience high mobility.