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Six city schools are among nine with the highest mobility rates

April 28, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The six elementary schools in Hagerstown are among nine in Washington County with the highest rates of student transfers, county Board of Education officials told the mayor and City Council on Tuesday.

The mobility rate - the rate at which students transfer to another school for reasons other than promotion to the next grade level - is tracked by the state and by the county Board of Education, said Robert Brown, the county coordinator of testing and accountability.

School officials have said a high mobility rate can adversely affect learning when students change textbooks and curriculums during the school year.

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Brown, who presented the statistics during a meeting at City Hall, said he thinks one reason for the higher mobility rates in Hagerstown is the percentage of people who rent rather than own property and are likely to move more frequently.

The two-year average mobility rate among all Washington County Public Schools is 13.5 students, Brown said. In comparison, Bester Academy had a 32.5-student mobility rate, Pangborn Elementary School had a 30-student mobility rate and Winter Street Elementary School had a 29-student mobility rate, he said.

The other three city elementary schools whose rates are above the average are Fountaindale, Emma K. Doub and Salem Avenue schools, Brown said. The three schools with higher-than-average rates outside the city are Eastern, Fountain Rock and Lincolnshire, Brown said.

JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown, executive director of elementary education for the school system, said students usually are moved for one of three reasons - family situations, housing changes and the job market.

The consequences of mobility can include lower achievement levels, lower attendance and reduced likelihood of high school completion and graduation, Palkovitz-Brown said.

Brown also has been tracking the number of students who leave to attend schools outside the county. He found that 21 percent of students left the county school system during the two years tracked. In comparison, 31 percent of students at Fountaindale left during the two-year period, he said.

After learning last year of the number of students who transfer among county schools, school board members implemented a uniform countywide reading program to make the transitions easier, Brown said.

"It makes it seamless for the students," he said.

Schools also provide welcome packets with general information about the school and community resources to help parents when a student transfers, he said. Brown said he plans to continue studying the impact of mobility on schools and students.

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