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The Chaos Factor: A Study of Student Mobility in Indiana

The Chaos Factor: A Study of Student Mobility in Indiana

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Published by: Journal of Undergraduate Research on Mar 27, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Chaos Factor:A Study of Student Mobility in Indiana
Each year in Indiana, the Indiana Statewide esting or Education-al Progress (ISEP) is administered to public school students as ameans o academic assessment. Te many determinants o ISEPscores can be separated into two categories: (1) those characteristicso the students and (2) those characteristics o the school. Ater someinvestigatory research into these determinants, we became interestedin student educational mobility, the percentage o the student body that switches schools or reasons other than promotion either within(intra) or between (inter) the corporations during the school year. A body o literature supports common intuition that requently changing schools lowers student achievement because it generateschaos or both students and classrooms. High mobility within a cor-poration can also jeopardize a corporation’s Annual Yearly Progress(AYP) under the No Child Let Behind (NCLB) Act. Finally, unlikepersonal characteristics and amily situations o children, corpora-tions can exercise some inuence over the level o mobility withtheir own policies locally (intra) and by working with other corpora-tions (inter). Consequently, we analyzed mobility data or the 292regular school corporations in Indiana with the goal o answeringthe ollowing question: can corporation pass rates on the IndianaStatewide esting or Educational Progress (ISEP) tests be raisedby reducing student mobility? We hypothesized that schools withelevated levels o intra- and inter-district mobility would have lowerISEP pass rates and tested the null hypothesis that mobility has noeect on ISEP pass rates. Our research shows that both intra- and
journal of undergraduate research
inter-district mobility have signicant, negative impacts on corpora-tions’ average ISEP pass rates.
Cuss of Sudn moby
Te persistence o student mobility is a detriment to students andschools. It disrupts the nature o education by “penetrating the es-sential activity o schools – the interaction o teachers and studentsaround learning.”
Student mobility, while mainly impacting urbanschool districts, concerns districts nationwide. Student mobility atthe elementary level is considered the norm; according to data romthe National Assessment o Educational Progress (NAEP), approxi-mately “34 percent o 4
graders…changed schools at least once inthe previous two years.”
Te causes o student mobility can be bro-ken down into two categories: (1) purposeul, planned moves and(2) incidental, impromptu moves. Purposeul educational moves aregenerally seen as positive reasons or moving, including such sce-narios as students and amilies moving residentially to escape a vio-lent neighborhood, a mother and students escaping a violent ather,or students being accepted into a magnet program at a dierentschool.Te model or positive educational moves in economics is knownas the iebout Model.
In this model, consumers move i they areunhappy with the provided services; in this case, educational con-sumers move i they are not satised with their school. Tis “voting with your eet” model is held up as a means o choice or amilies. As with most economic models, one o the assumptions o the ieboutmodel is the presence o adequate resources.
Highly mobile stu-dents, however, are more likely to be living in poverty 
and in situa-tions with inadequate resources.
Moreover, as is oten the case withhighly mobile students, the cause o mobility is unrelated to the out-come; that is, a residential move prompts an educational move eveni the amily was happy with the educational product. In the ie-bout model, it is hard to disentangle the relevant cause or the moveand the desired outcome without a statement rom the movers. An
The Chaos Factor: A Study of Student Mobility in Indiana
important policy nuance concerns corporation enrollment policy;in corporations with a closed enrollment system, where school as-signments are based on residential location within a corporation,residential moves are almost guaranteed to cause school switching,regardless o the amily’s attitude towards the school. Te ieboutModel would assume that a amily switches residence based on theirdissatisaction with their school, as opposed to the more likely sce-nario o a amily changing residence because o other actors, orexample, eviction, job loss, or divorce, regardless o their eelingstowards the school. Tus the reality o residential and educationalmobility is not always as clear as the iebout model presents.In contrast to the choice models, there are negative reasons orstudent mobility: (a) residential moves unrelated to educational con-cerns, potentially leading to an increasingly unstable home lie;
(b)parents’ ear o testing the student or special needs or or other suchschool-related reasons; and (c) parental issues with school admin-istration that result in student transer. o use one example, in theSouth Bend Community School Corporation (SBCSC) unrelatedresidential moves seem to be the most prevalent cause o studentmobility.
Tere are many possible combinations o residential andeducational mobility, all o which must be accounted or when de-signing local enrollment policies.
th Consquncs of Sudn moby
 Just as there are many reasons or mobility, there are many conse-quences and magnitudes elt in the entire educational community.Many populations are directly impacted by student mobility, mov-ing rom micro to macro: mobile students, their classroom peers,teachers, and the larger school community itsel. Mobility impactsthe interactions between the dierent agents within a school as wellas the agents themselves.

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