One in three Columbus students change schools each year. So, it’s little surprise that a group of nearly 100 of Columbus’ education and community leaders gathered to hear and discuss the groundbreaking research findings from Fordham and Community Research Partners’ (CRP) just-released Ohio Student Mobility Project.
In attendance this morning were senior staff members from Columbus City Schools, the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, The Ohio State University, Columbus’ largest charitable foundations, members of the press corps, and education policy and youth program organizations. The Columbus Foundation hosted the event.
Roberta Garber of CRP opened the event with an overview of the research findings for the Columbus metropolitan area. The findings were striking: There’s a lot of student movement—perhaps more than generally appreciated—occurring within school districts, between districts, and between charter schools and traditional districts. To measure student mobility in Columbus' schools and schools across Ohio, Garber reported that CRP analyzed approximately 6 million student records. The research found that some schools had churn rates upwards of 50 percent—a statistic that indicates a significant amount of mobility, by way of student admits or withdrawals.
After the presentation of the data, Mark Real of KidsOhio.org moderated a panel discussion to reflect on the research findings. The panel included Matt Cohen of the Department of Education, Nancy Van Meter of the American Federation of Teachers, Steve Dackin of Reynoldsburg School District, and Terry Ryan of the
For our full report on student mobility, please visit http://www.edexcellence.net/publications/student-nomads-mobility-in-ohios-schools.html
Imagine for a moment you’re a school teacher. For the sake of argument, let’s say that you teach at Southmoor Middle School, located on the south side of Columbus. To start your year, you have 25 of Columbus’ most eager, bright-eyed sixth graders in your classroom. Their enthusiasm is fresh like a new textbook and bubbles like a science fair volcano.
Fast forward to May and your classroom has changed considerably. During the school year (you have an average Southmoor classroom) five new students came to your class while eight students departed at some point for another school. For incoming students, you had to make mid-year assessments of those students’ learning levels and quickly integrate them into your lesson plans and classroom culture. You likely did all this without the assistance of a student record (as those can take months to find their way to you), while also maintaining the pace of learning for those students who have been with you all year. Student mobility complicates things.
The nomadic-like nature of the Southmoor Middle School student body is not an outlier when it comes to student mobility. In fact, it’s one of many schools in Ohio—and across the nation—that copes with a revolving door of students—students who enter and leave a school during the year.
Student mobility complicates things
Yet, despite the scale and scope of student mobility, the research on it
The Fordham Institute sends out hearty congratulations to Mayor Frank Jackson and his staff, Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon, the city’s business community, district supporters, teachers, students, and the voters of Cleveland on the passage of the district’s levy—a key component of the Plan for Transforming Schools. It was a hard-fought campaign that was successful in the end due to the day-to-day and door-to-door diligence of its supporters.
As Fordham’s Ohio VP Terry Ryan wrote on this very blog back in February, this effort to make Cleveland one of the nation's school-reform leaders – with its sights fixed firmly on finding, funding, and nurturing what works in education for the sake of the students themselves—is a significant step forward for all Cleveland families. And on this morning of November 7, implementation is now at hand.
All involved with that implementation must be mindful of what was promised and what must be delivered:
- Increasing the number of high-performing schools, both district and charter, while closing failing schools;
- Maximizing enrollment in Cleveland’s existing high-performing district and public charter schools;
- Investing in promising schools by giving their leaders additional resources, the freedom to build high-performing teams, and the ability to make financial and instructional decisions based on their students’ needs;
- Seeking (and finding) flexibility in the hiring, retention, and remuneration of teachers; and
- Sustaining both district and public charter transformation schools.
We applaud the work done to create and to pass the plan
My colleagues in Washington D.C. recently published a state-by-state analysis of teacher union strength in U.S. Their report is trenchant, timely, and relevant. Why? Because it shows the ongoing influence that teacher unions have on our schools--despite the fact that labor unions, overall, have declined in the U.S. (We ranked Ohio 12 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in teacher union strength.)
Digging in at a more local level, let’s consider the story of the City of Springfield, population 60,000, located an hour outside of Columbus. Springfield is a city in decline: Since 1960, Springfield has lost 25 percent of its population and its median household income is $34,000 per year, below the state average. The city is mostly White (75 percent). Springfield has 3 charter schools and 1 traditional school district.
Now, let’s consider three of Springfield’s schools: Springfield Academy of Excellence (SAE), a Fordham-sponsored charter school, Fulton Elementary School, and Perrin Woods Elementary School. Springfield City School District (a traditional public school) operates Fulton and Perrin Woods. I’ve selected these schools because of their similar demographics and academic performance (table 1).
Table 1: Demographic and academic performance data for selected Springfield school buildings, 2011-12.
Source: Ohio Department of Education, 2011-12 Preliminary Data
Pretty similar: SAE, Fulton, and Perrin Woods all have a majority Black and Hispanic students in their school. (These represent 3 of the 4 elementary schools in