Student movement puts the hurt on academics - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Student movement puts the hurt on academics

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August 14, 2007


Albany -- Forty-two percent of Dougherty County students change schools during the course of the school year. That's an extremely high mobility rate and school leaders say it's hurting test scores and student performance.

Now, a new program is in place to stop all the student transfers, but what challenges will it create for busing?

Ms. Austin's first grade class at Sherwood Acres Elementary has 21 students. If the district's mobility rate is 42%, simple math tells you eight students could be in a different school by the end of the school year.

"We have elementary students, middle, and high school as well but elementary students that have made up to seven moves within a years time," says Renee Bridges, DCSS System Test Coordinator.

The district says that's not acceptable. With the first week of school complete, under the new school mobility policy students will now remain in the classroom they're in today through the end of the year, in hopes of providing a more consistent curriculum.

"Hopefully by the end of this year we're going to see improvements in test scored due to this new policy in place as well as their academic performance," says Bridges.

The only problem with this plan, busing. The district already shuffles around 93 high school students because of Adequate Yearly Progress. With a 42% mobility rate they're anticipating problems.

"We may have to revise that plan depending on how many instances, but if we look in the past it could be huge," says DCSS Transportation Director Robert Lloyd.

Already they bus students from Putney, in extreme Southeast Dougherty County, to Robert Cross Middle School, on Lockett Station Road on the Northwest side. Opposite corners of the county, more than 20 miles apart.

"It could happen that they go to Live Oak, which is further out," Lloyd says.

Eventually the district may create hubs, where students would be dropped off and picked up by buses to get them to the appropriate school. In the long run, the district hopes this will improve grades and the overall education of its students.

At the end of the year, the school system will look at a student who may have previously transferred several times and compare his past grades with his performance this year. They say it may take several years before they get a true sense for whether the mobility program is achieving results.

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