Student Mobility and the Increased Risk of High School Drop Out
A variety of evidence suggests that students in the United States change schools frequently. But there has been relatively little research that examines the educational consequences of student mobility. This study examined the incidence of student mobility between the eighth and twelfth grades and its effect on high school completion using the National Educational Longitudinal Survey third follow-up data. Three models were tested on two groups of students. For eighth-grade students in 1988, we predicted (1) whether students changed schools or dropped out between the eighth and twelfth grades and (2) high school completion status two years after twelfth grade. For twelfth-grade students in 1992 we predicted high school completion status two years after twelfth grade. The models were developed from a conceptual framework based on theories of dropping out, postsecondary institutional departure, and student transfer adjustment that suggest school mobility may represent a less severe form of educational. disengagement similar to dropping out. The results generally support this idea. That is, measures of social and academic engagement, such as low grades, misbehavior, and high absenteeism, predicted both whether students changed schools or dropped out. The results further indicate that, controlling for other predictors, students who made even one nonpromotional school change between the eighth and twelfth grades were twice as likely to not complete high school as students who did not change schools. Together, the findings suggest that student mobility is both a symptom of disengagement and an important risk factor for high school dropout.