Dear Key Communicators:

I am writing about two critical education topics that I find intriguing and trust that you will find interesting and relevant. The topics I am referring to are:
  • Student mobility (defined as students who move from school to school within a given school year or over a period of several school years).
  • The academic impact a school district or campus has on student achievement and development for the students who are NOT mobile versus the students who ARE mobile.
While it is impossible to gauge and define a district’s or campus student success by one indicator, our assessment and accountability staff along with our information technology team researched how students who are continuously enrolled (not mobile) in Alief ISD perform on standardized assessments compared to students who are not continuously enrolled (very mobile) in Alief ISD. In other words, how much of an impact does Alief ISD have on students that stay in the district without moving from school to school?
*Continuously enrolled is defined in two ways:
  1. Enrolled in an Alief ISD school for 95% of the time over a four-year period. For example, a student in 3rd grade who has been enrolled in the same school since kindergarten or an 8th grader who has been enrolled since 5th grade.
  2. Enrolled in Alief ISD for a student’s entire school career. Either K through 12th grade or 1st grade through 12th grade. 
We took every 3rd through 9th grade student in Alief ISD and divided them by grade (3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, etc.) and whether the student was continuously enrolled in Alief ISD for four consecutive years or more or three years or less. For each grade level, we compared how the Alief ISD continuously enrolled students (enrolled four years or more) performed on standardized assessments in mathematics and reading compared to the non-continuously enrolled students (enrolled three years or less). In each grade level and in each academic area (reading and mathematics), the continuously enrolled students outperformed the non-continuously enrolled students by 4-8 percentage points. It is interesting to note that in Alief ISD, only 50% of the students in grades 3-9 are enrolled for four consecutive years.

We also took the 2016 Alief ISD High School graduates and identified those students that had been enrolled in Alief ISD at least 95% of the time since 1st grade or kindergarten. In this case, 96%-99% of those students passed their End of Course of Exams for graduation in Algebra, English 1, English 2, Biology and US History.  Ninety-eight percent of those students graduated high school in four years. Here, it is also interesting to note that only 25% of the Alief ISD graduating class of 2016 was in Alief ISD since 1st grade.

While this data can tell us a lot, I have highlighted a couple of critical issues:
  1. Generally speaking, student mobility hurts students academically, emotionally and socially.
  2. If a student is able to have a consistent and stable school experience for multiple years in the same school and district, the district will educate that student at a high level.

My point in sharing this information with you is to demonstrate the importance for students to remain in a stable school environment and not “bounce” from school-to-school and district-to-district. This type of student mobility could dramatically affect how well a student will achieve while in school.  If given the consistent time teaching students, school districts and campuses demonstrate that the public education system is very effective, contrary to what some might think.

Thank you for serving as a Key Communicator.
HD Chambers