Friday, October 18, 2013

Mobility Rates In Rogers Park

Here's another clip from WRPCO's "What's Your Public Education IQ?"

Becky Vevea asks the panelists about mobility rates and the special supports that schools need when faced with high student mobility (transferring in and out during the year).

I submitted this question because when I was a teacher in Arizona, I would get new students all the time, particularly after winter break, when the charter schools would lay the hammer down on the behavior kids, who would all return to the neighborhood schools just in time to be included in my test data.

Gabriella Iselin
...parents are interested in “where are the resources? Where are the new schools? So we end up getting...quite a few kids that leave charter schools that have behavior issues, discipline issues that are pushed out. We get a ton. Counselors often say, ‘We feel like the charter school’s alternative school.’ And that all affects our score-- that score that people like to extrapolate on how good a school is. And it is a score but there’s a story behind it, and part of that story is that we service every kid that is in our neighborhood that comes to our school. And that’s different.  And so your comparing apples to oranges a lot of the time.
Craig Benes
What I try do at the network is for us to think more holistically...  that it’s just not one school’s responsibility to serve one group of children, that we really have to work together across schools, across the network, to see that it’s a shared responsibility and a shared opportunity and gift. I think we sometimes use words or language to frame this in deficit-base or challenge, but I think it’s really special and unique in this community, in Rogers Park, that you can  can walk down (to?) most of the schools and see the United Nations.
Josh Radinsky
The key with mobility is stability... The last thing  that kids in high mobility communities need is destabilization. The last thing they need is a chaotic situation at the school, where the school is trying to  adapt to some new random set of mandates that get handed down by the district.
I've done a little research on the Rogers Park mobility data, and the thing that sticks out in the data is that while the mobility for all our neighborhood schools is high compared to the 18.4% rate for CPS in general, the mobility rate at Gale has been trending over 30% for the past several years and was 48% last year.

If you talk to the housing people in the neighborhood, you get a very clear picture of why this is going on, and from what I gather, the principal at Gale is working on a comprehensive communications plan with community housing groups to improve that school's ability to communicate with a parent population that is always changing. So there's that.

But what is clear from the forum is that there really isn't any specifically different support the district is offering to a school like Gale that is any different from any of the other schools. The network chief indicates that he likes to think holistically about this problem, and that high turnover rates are a gift (he may have been referring to diversity rates in general?), but he really can't name any specific thing that the district is doing to support the kind of acute mobility challenges that Gale is facing that are different from any other school.

I can guarantee you that when they eventually come after Gale, they're going to be talking about test scores and test scores alone. It won't matter that Gale's been making slow, steady gains over time. All that will matter is that the test scores are lower than some other unnamed school somewhere. There won't be any talk of shared responsibility or the holistic wonderfulness of the UN. There will be blame, exclusively, shared by the teachers and staff of Gale alone.  My theory is that there just always has to be a scalp.

Anyway, some other observations:

It's hard to determine the mobility rate of a charter school, because the way laws have been written, it's hard to find out anything about a charter school. But the system-wide mobility rate for UNO is 5.7%. At one point late in the forum, the charter school person asserted that charter schools are facing the same mobility rates as traditional public schools. It just isn't true.


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