On the Move - Student Mobility and the School Community
Backous, Sheri J.
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A growing problem for urban schools is the students who move numerous times throughout the year from school to school whether in the same district or a neighboring district. Little is known about the mobile students' experiences when entering a school community and what the staff's perceptions and responses may be of this mobility. The purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding of mobile students' experiences and staff perceptions of mobile students within the school community. Using data from interviewing nine mobile students and twelve staff members from a southwest Washington urban middle school, this case study examines how a school community's practices align with mobile students' experiences. The results vary with some students adjusting to the community with much more ease than others who struggle to feel a part of the school community. All students were concerned about their social adjustment and making friends. A majority of the mobile students were failing their classes. Staff members' interview responses also varied with some staff members sharing the strategies they use to integrate new students, some staff members say they integrate new students but do little, and other staff members who would rather have the new students "fit in" and follow the classroom expectations from the start. This study highlights the importance of reflecting on the mobile student population, their assimilation into the school community and what support systems are in place to meet the needs of these students. Student mobility greatly affects the development of relationships with teachers and peers, continuity in curriculum and student learning, and regular attendance; however increased efforts are needed to be made in implementing strategies to build a welcoming school community and to reduce the negative effects of mobility. Such efforts and recommendations include professional development opportunities for staff, effective and efficient records transfers, multi-layered instructional programs, consistent curriculum and instruction, Welcome Centers, peer mentor program, Family Resource Centers, and other means to connect with students and their families.