CLEVELAND, Ohio — A new statewide study attaches numbers to a situation faced by many Ohio teachers every year: The names on their student roster on opening day aren’t going to be same ones they check off on the last day of school.
A surprising number of students are on the move in any given year – between districts, between schools in the same district and between district and charter schools, according to the study released Thursday by Columbus-based Community Research Partners.
The giant game of musical chairs is most frenetic in the big cities, the study found. In Cleveland, for example, only about 55 percent of students in kindergarten through grade seven stayed in the same school through the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years (not counting those who switched because they moved up a grade.)
But the churn isn’t happening just in urban districts. Over the two years studied, 73 districts in the Cleveland area exchanged about 27,000 students. Another 21,600 were exchanged between districts and charter schools, which are publicly funded, but privately operated.
“What struck me was the scale of the mobility,” said Terry Ryan, a vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which was one of the study’s funders. “I don’t think most people understand or appreciate how much sharing of kids there is. We need to start thinking about this regionally.”
Ryan said the report appears to be the first one to take a look at student moves across an entire state. More than 5 million student records from 2009 to 2011 were examined. Separate analyses for the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo areas addressed the suburbs as well as the urban centers.
Locally, the study found that Warrensville Heights, East Cleveland and Richmond Heights had lower stability rates than Cleveland for K-7 students, which indicates a high percentage of students moving into or out of the district.
At the other end of the spectrum, Independence, Bay Village and Chagrin Falls had the highest stability in the region, with 95 percent or more of their younger students staying in the district for the entire two year-period.
For students in grades eight to 11, Warrensville Heights and East Cleveland had lower stability than Cleveland. West Geauga and Cuyahoga Heights had the highest stability in the region.
When the researchers took a look at the flow into and out of Cleveland, some patterns emerged.
Over the two-year period, 402 students from the Parma district went to Cleveland while 371 went in the opposite direction. At the same time, 356 Euclid students went to Cleveland while 547 went from Cleveland to Euclid. And 273 Cleveland Heights-University Heights students went to Cleveland while 491 left Cleveland for Cleveland Heights.
Garfield Heights and Maple Heights each received more than 300 students from Cleveland.
Roberta Garber, executive director of Community Research Partners, said the Cleveland-area landscape is different from what’s seen in the rest of the state
Here, many of the inner-ring suburbs show high mobility, but they’re surrounded by a distinct ring of very stable, high-performing suburban districts, she said. Elsewhere in the state, there’s more of a mixture, with more of the suburban districts falling into a middle tier of mobility.