Geographic mobility and student achievement in an urban setting

Gary M. Ingersoll


Geographic mobility has long been suspected to have a negative impact on student achievement and adjustment. Urban schools, in particular, are subject to highly mobile subpopulations whose contribution to overall district performance can be a source of serious policy concerns. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of geographic instability on student achievement among elementary, middle, and secondary school students in an urban setting. Academic achievement of four groups of mobile children were compared to achievement levels of a stable student population. The results of the analyses show a nearly uniformly negative impact of geographic mobility on student achievement; the most negative effects of geographic mobility were found at earlier grade levels. At the same time, the size of the mobile population diminished as the students grew older.

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