More than one-third of St. Louis K-12 students change schools midyear, new report shows
About 38% of K-12 students in St. Louis change schools midway through the school year. That’s the finding of a new report from the St. Louis School Research-Practice Collaborative that addresses the issue of student mobility.
Student mobility refers to students changing schools for reasons other than moving up a grade. The cause for such mobility is often unanticipated, and the effects include low attendance and poor test scores.
“Thinking about the stories that have been told, anecdotally, sometimes for students that are living in high-poverty areas — things like eviction, things like job loss — they can impact students at a family level,” explained Jason Jabbari, one of the report’s researchers who is an assistant professor in the Brown School at Washington University.
The collaborative’s next phase of research will tackle why students are moving and where they’re moving to.
Founded in 2022, the St. Louis School Research-Practice Collaborative has brought together researchers from local universities and educators from St. Louis Public Schools, Confluence Academies and KIPP St. Louis.
Andrew Eason, a fifth grade teacher at Penrose Elementary in the Penrose neighborhood, is especially pleased that the issue of student mobility in St. Louis is getting a closer look. He sees how students changing schools plays out in the classroom.
“If [students] start a year at one place and then end up moving to maybe a charter school, and then end up moving back to a public school, there are different dynamics and different ways of instructing,” Eason said. “Not only do [students] have to adjust academically, but they have to adjust socially.”
The report is based on data from the 2018-19 school year, and while more than one-third of students changing schools midyear is cause for concern, it’s a decrease over recent years. In 2010-11, student mobility was 51%.
Even so, the rate of student mobility in St. Louis is high compared to rates in Kansas City, Springfield, St. Louis County and Missouri overall.
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