June 1, 2015

Russell W. Rumberger, (805) 893-2250, russ@education.ucsb.edu
Daniel Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

New Brief Explores Causes and Consequences of Student Mobility

EAST LANSING, Mich. (June 1, 2015) – A new brief out today explores the causes and consequences of student mobility, a widespread, and often-unheralded, problem facing American schools. According to the brief, student mobility can negatively impact student achievement on test scores, high school graduation prospects, and even student behavior. Multiple moves and those accompanied by family disruptions produce more severe impacts.

The brief, written by Russell Rumberger, professor of education in the Gervirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California Santa Barbara, is published by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Families initiate most student mobility due to changing residences, but according to the brief, schools initiate transfers due to expulsion or school closings.

A review of extant research suggests that changing schools harms normal child and adolescent development by disrupting relationships with peers and teachers, and by interrupting a student's educational program.

Rumberger's brief is accompanied with a series of recommendations. However, he cautions that mediating the effects of student mobility requires solutions that are adaptable and applicable to students and schools.

To reduce the negative impacts of student mobility, Rumberger recommends:

  • School officials should strive to reduce mobility by raising overall school quality;
  • School officials should give students and parents sufficient and timely information to make informed school transfer decisions;
  • Personnel in schools receiving transfers can prepare materials and activities  before students arrive; and
  • State officials should collect and report school and district mobility rates.

Rumberger highlights a need for expanded research efforts to study the impact of student mobility. Additionally, he suggests, "Further research is also needed to document the impact of mobility on schools and on the achievement of non-mobile students."

Find the brief on the web: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

This policy brief was produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado Boulder with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The brief can also be found on the NEPC website: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Russell W. Rumberger is Professor of Education in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at UC Santa Barbara. A faculty member at UCSB since 1987, Professor Rumberger has published widely in several areas of education: education and work; the schooling of disadvantaged students, particularly school dropouts and linguistic minority students; school effectiveness; and education policy. He directs the California Dropout Research Center (http://cdrp.ucsb.edu/).

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/