More than 100 educators, housing agency representatives and social service providers will gather on Tuesday, Sept. 1, for a day-long summit to address the problem of students who move from school to school, interrupting their education and jeopardizing high school graduation.
The Mobility Summit, a collaboration of Mayor Sly James and Turn the Page Kansas City, the mayor’s initiative to improve reading skills among early-elementary-age students, is supported by America’s Promise Alliance and its GradNation Community Summit initiative, sponsored by AT&T.
“It’s obvious that students who change schools multiple times, for whatever reason, will endure an interrupted education that threatens their ability get good grades, graduate from high school or to be successful in higher education and in life,” James said. “At this summit, we’ll hear about the extent of this problem and come up with ideas on how we can start to fix this problem in Kansas City.”
No one has a full picture of the impact of students who often change schools because there are 15 school districts within the City of Kansas City, Missouri. Students and families moving just a few miles or even a few blocks might be changing schools or school districts. Other kids who may be affected include homeless children, foster children and students at risk due to unstable family situations or behavior problems.
The day-long summit features presentations by leading national and local researchers and discussions on potential solutions to the problem among educators and multiple other community organizations.
John Sondag, president of AT&T Missouri, said grassroots attention to the problem is important to local companies. AT&T is a national sponsor of GradNation.
“The business community has a huge stake in this issue, and working with educators, parents and nonprofits at the local level is the best way to ensure we stay on track,” Sondag said. “Our collective future depends on it, and it will take all of us working together to achieve it.”
Controlling for other predictors and excluding grade promotion, students who made even one school change between the 8th and 12th grades were twice as likely to not complete high school as students who did not change schools, according to research published in the American Journal of Education. Because Kansas City, Missouri is home to parts of 15 school districts, even one local residence move often require students to change schools and school districts.
One of the authors of that research, Russell Rumberger will speak at the Kansas City Mobility Summit. Rumberger is professor of Education in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. A faculty member at UCSB since 1987, Rumberger has published widely in several areas of education, including the schooling of disadvantaged students, particularly school dropouts and linguistic minority students.
Also speaking is Leigh Anne Taylor Knight, executive director of the Kansas City Area Education Research Consortium, who has conducted local research on the topic.
Following presentations by the researchers, participants from school districts, charter schools, housing and transportation organizations and agencies serving homeless youth will break out into community solution groups.
The groups will address the root cause of frequent classroom moves, such as how school districts and the community can harness new technology and share data; how to reduce the number of school days that students must miss when they enroll in a new school district; and how to reduce chronic school absence. The discussion groups will be facilitated by the Lean Lab, an innovation laboratory that convenes educators and community leaders to develop new school models, services or products that improve K-12 learning for Kansas City students.
The summit will conclude by sharing of ideas discussed by each group. Thereafter, the mayor’s office and Turn the Page Kansas City will work with others in the community to develop a results-oriented plan to reduce the problem of student mobility.
The Kansas City Mobility Summit is one of 100 such events nationwide co-sponsored by America’s Promise Alliance. The summits are as part of the alliance’s GradNation campaign, a national movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and increase postsecondary enrollment and completion.
“The progress we are seeing toward the national goal of raising graduation rates is based on communities coming together to support and insist on better outcomes for young people,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance. “Summits like the event in Kansas City are rallying points for communities. America’s Promise is delighted to support this effort and work with the leaders in Kansas City and communities across the country to help advance this campaign.”
The GradNation campaign is a signature effort of America’s Promise Alliance, which leads more than 400 organizations, communities and individuals dedicated to making the promise of America real for every child. Local sponsors are Kansas City Area Education Research Consortium, Missouri Humanities Council, United Way of Greater Kansas City, Local Investment Commission (LINC) and Jackson County COMBAT.