About 15 percent of students came into, left District 51 last year

Nearly 15 percent of District 51 students moved into or out of the school district after classes had already begun during the 2012-13 school year, according to new data from the Colorado Department of Education.

The department annually releases a mobility rate for each district and school in the state. The district rate is calculated by dividing the number of students who moved out of or into a school district during the school year by the number of students in that district. School mobility rates divide the number of students who moved into or out of a school after classes begin, even if they moved schools within the same district, by the total school population. Students who moved twice are counted a single time in the formula.

District 51’s mobility rate decreased from 21 percent in 2011-12 to 14.8 percent in 2012-13 and the state’s mobility rate dipped from 24.7 percent to 14.7 percent year-over-year but the drop can be attributed to a change in the mobility calculation this year. Students who moved schools over the summer have not been included in mobility rate calculations but the department of education also stopped counting students who moved between districts during the summer for the 2012-13 rate.

Low-income students and students from migrant and homeless families had the district’s highest mobility rates in 2012-13, ranging from 38 to 40 percent for those subgroups. District 51 Prevention Coordinator Cathy Haller said the root of those high rates for all three groups are likely tied to one factor: the economy.

“It’s all really the same issue with housing and stability,” Haller said.

While some families may bounce between schools to move into more affordable housing when a job situation is tough, Haller said the school district lost 160 homeless students between January 2011 and May 2012 because families moved out of Mesa County for work when economies in other counties and states recovered faster than ours.

While a unified curriculum in the district keeps most students from missing particular units and lessons if they swap schools mid-year within the district, Haller said students who move between districts during a school year can miss lessons and fall behind. Other problems can arise from mobility as well.

District 51 schools with the highest mobility in 2012-13 were R-5 High (50.9 percent), Grande River Virtual Academy (38.1 percent), Gateway School (24.1 percent), Chatfield Elementary (19.7 percent) and Nisley Elementary (18.8 percent). Dual Immersion Academy and New Emerson were the only District 51 schools with a single-digit mobility rate last year: 6.6 percent for New Emerson and 6 percent for Dual Immersion.

“There’s a social cost to mobility; kids who are highly mobile have a much harder time making and keeping relationships,” Haller said.


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