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Richmond County sees lots of student transfers

Total enrollment consistent; many transfer within district

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The number of students in Richmond County public schools hasn't changed much in the past year.

But about one in three of those students likely has changed schools at least once in that time.

According to district data, 32,426 students were enrolled at the end of the first nine-week period, which was Oct. 8 . That was only 34 fewer students than at the same time last year. Look at the individual school enrollments, though, and a different picture emerges .

Take Lucy C. Laney High School, which had 757 students after the first marking period last year and 729 this year. At least 100 students transfer red from other high schools during the summer under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which requires low-performing schools to allow students to move to a higher-performing one , said school system spokesman Lou Svehla.

Laney fit that standard in part because of the wholesale changes it is making - such as replacing about half of its teaching staff - as part of the federal $1 million School Improvement Grant it received. Laney also attracted some transfer students because of its Academy for Advanced Placement Studies magnet program, which is available to all Richmond County students this year for the first time.

Despite that, in the first nine weeks alone, Laney has seen 289 students withdraw, Svehla said. Of those, 188 transferred to another Richmond County public school.

Such situations play out all over the county.

"Last year, after the first nine weeks, we had 10,000 students with a withdrawal code, and many of them moved (to another school) within our county," he said. "We've always talked about the transient nature of our area, but this puts a stamp on how transient our population really is."

This transiency is nothing new in urban school districts. A 1993 study of the Austin Independent School Dis­trict in Texas presented to the American Education Research Association showed a strong correlation between families living in poverty and students changing schools.
Other studies done before and since throughout the country have shown similar results.

Reasons for such mobility can be many, but an example would be parents moving from place to place because they can't afford to pay the rent, so they get evicted. Another scenario might be a parent who sends the child to a grandparent, who after a short time sends the child to an aunt or uncle.

Mobility also includes students who move in or out of the area because of a parent's job change or other circumstances.

Richmond County already has a higher number of those instances because of Fort Gordon and its relatively transient military population.

Students who move frequently can have a more difficult time retaining what they are taught in school, according to research. Highly mobile students also have a greater chance of dropping out of school early.

"It makes it difficult for teachers and staff to form relationships with students, and it's difficult for students who move a lot to form relationships with their teachers," Svehla said.

"One school may be ahead of another school in teaching the curriculum. And not all schools offer the same classes."

Biggest changes in enrollment

The Richmond County School system has 32,426 students enrolled , 34 fewer than at this time last year. Here are the Richmond County public schools with the biggest changes in enrollment, comparing the number of students enrolled at the end of the first nine-week period this year with the same time in 2009:

Increasing Enrollment

School20102009Change
Glenn Hills High1,046946+100
Reynolds Elementary776703+73
Tutt Middle562489+73

Decreasing Enrollment

School 2010 2009 Change

School20102009Change
T.W. Josey High813938-125
Butler High9201,006-86
Hephzibah High1,1341,214-80

Source: Richmond County School System

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/18/10 - 05:11 am
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With the constant loss of

With the constant loss of students, Laney and Josey will have to be combined sooner or later. The multimillion dollar stadium left behind will be torn down, of course.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 10/18/10 - 07:49 am
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What a worthless story.

What a worthless story. Richmond County school system has dozens of schools, and the ones with significant change amount to only six schools. Yawn.

corgimom
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corgimom 10/18/10 - 08:09 am
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Why doesn't Roberson just say

Why doesn't Roberson just say "In order to get a 90% graduation rate, all you have to do to get a diploma is just show up and breathe"?

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 10/18/10 - 08:27 am
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Jason Wermers wrote: Highly

Jason Wermers wrote:

Highly mobile students also have a greater chance of dropping out of school early.

The way the formula works, drop-outs do not hurt you on the graduation rate. It's those pesky students who tough it out and make it through 12 grades without passing the requirements who hurt the statistics. So obviously a good strategy for Roberson would be to convince non-performers to drop out. He can make his 90% that way.

usafvet
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usafvet 10/18/10 - 09:17 am
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I think the 'just show up'

I think the 'just show up' bit has been tried. Even that doesn't work. I don't know how the transfers work or what the criteria, but I feel that a failing, problem student should NOT be able to transfer out of the less desirable schools. It would only drag another school down. Which fits right in the dumbing down efforts.
Make all schools equal........dumb down.
Make all students equal......dumb down.
Sad part is......We all know what the problem is. It is not money and will not be changed with more money.

usafvet
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usafvet 10/18/10 - 09:24 am
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Drop out is bad. However the

Drop out is bad. However the system would greatly improve without those thugs, gang members, and those who do not care to learn, not equipped with the intelligence to learn, or simply want to get a quick start in the criminal world or entitlement world. Their early home schooling was, "the government owes you a living. The rich have too much money and way back some one was a slave." I believe in a very old southern expression, "ROOT HOG, OR DIE".

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 10/18/10 - 09:48 am
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Jason Wermers wrote: The

Jason Wermers wrote:

The number of students in Richmond County public schools hasn't changed much in the past year. But about one in three of those students likely has changed schools at least once in that time.

Let's see. A student goes to school for 12 years. He goes from elementary to middle school in the sixth and he goes from middle school to high school in the ninth. So some of those “one in three” students who changed schools last year were just normal school moves. This issue is not the big deal that Jason Wermers is making it out to be. Of course, Jason Wermers is just a cub reporter. Whose sociological water in the BOE is he carrying?

KingJames
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KingJames 10/18/10 - 10:03 am
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Little Lamb, Jason Wermers

Little Lamb, Jason Wermers based this story on moves that occured during the first grading period. He wrote, "According to district data, 32,426 students were enrolled at the end of the first nine-week period, which was Oct. 8," and "Despite that, in the first nine weeks alone, Laney has seen 289 students withdraw." This means the natural moves from elementary to middle, and from middle to high schools were not part of the study.

Also, you people are not optimistic at all. You should all move away to some place where the schools chief won't set a high graduation rate goal. No, money isn't the answer. However, I don't see any of you suggesting solutions. If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem. You all expect the schools to be terrible, so in your view they are. You offer nothing to try to better the situation.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 10/18/10 - 10:36 am
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The Laney High situation is

The Laney High situation is special, and it should not be used in the statistical sample. They totally re-strucutured the school staff, they brought in new programs, and they had to allow all the transfers they could accomodate under No Child Left Behind because Laney has been a chronically poor-performing school.

And King James, please read carefully the first two sentences of Wermers' article. When he says "in that time," he is referring to an entire school year.

KingJames
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KingJames 10/18/10 - 11:10 am
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Little Lamb, this is what he

Little Lamb, this is what he says at the beginning. "The number of students in Richmond County public schools hasn't changed much in the past year. But about one in three of those students likely has changed schools at least once in that time."

Yes, he does refer to a school year there. However, when he cites his data, he says it was taken from enrollment after the first grading period of both years. That would mean the natural progression of students from elementary to middle, and middle to high schools was not a factor.

In the statement prior to the data in the chart, Wermers says, "Here are the Richmond County public schools with the biggest changes in enrollment, comparing the number of students enrolled at the end of the first nine-week period this year with the same time in 2009."

Little Lamb
44883
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Little Lamb 10/18/10 - 11:56 am
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Well, KingJames, we'll not be

Well, KingJames, we'll not be able to come to an understanding unless Jason Wermers comes on the forum and tells us what he meant by the statistics. Two honorable readers have come to two different conclusions about what Wermers wrote.

Taylor B
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Taylor B 10/18/10 - 12:17 pm
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Until we get a vocational

Until we get a vocational track at high schools and stop unsing money to bang square pegs in round holes, we will get these drop out rates. Not all students are cut out for college, so stop trying to force the curriculum on them. Its just silly, and irresponsible.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 10/18/10 - 01:03 pm
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Amen, Tayor. If I lived in

Amen, Tayor. If I lived in the sixth district, I would vote for you for school board.

KingJames
10
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KingJames 10/18/10 - 01:15 pm
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Wow, I thought Little Lamb

Wow, I thought Little Lamb was a jerk who makes offensive comments a few seconds ago. But now I see I was wrong. (Yes, I'm still laughing at the post you made on the other story). Maybe Mr. Wermers will be gracious enough to clarify this story as you've suggested, my friend.

anotherlook
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anotherlook 10/18/10 - 03:06 pm
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Just a thought. I wonder if

Just a thought. I wonder if anyone has seen any correlation with foreclosure rates in the areas that are feeder schools for the affected high schools and in the residential areas that are zoned for the high schools?

Additionally, I wonder if this phenomenon is a fairly common trend in a majority of areas with a high percentage of students receiving free or subsidized meals or just in the lower performing schools. I ask this question because in the past Glenn Hills High School had many students that were transferred to Westside High School, but currently it is on the increasing enrollment list.

Also the article doesn't note how many of the transfers have been due to punitive rulings by tribunals or how many transfers are due to parents' decision to pursue private school or home schooling as an option for their children's education.

Moreover, I wonder if the writer noted whether the older schools, or those that had not had recent remodeling, or special programs added were inordinately impacted by this phenomenon. Again, I think we need to look at this in light of the fact that the Academy of Richmond County has an International Baccalaureate program as well as a newly remodeled wing and its enrollment is stable.

Lastly, I agree with the both King James and Little Lamb who expressed a concern about the statistics themselves and what conclusions could be drawn from them. As the noted British politician, Benjamin Disraeli, once said: "There are three kinds of lies; lies, d*** lies, and statistics." We all would be wise to take this into consideration as we weigh data that has been presented as fact.

Jason Wermers
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Jason Wermers 10/18/10 - 03:26 pm
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Thanks to everyone for your

Thanks to everyone for your comments. You raised some good questions. I try to answer them on my School Matters blog: http://bit.ly/9ABWfa

luckie
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luckie 10/18/10 - 08:17 pm
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I would like to say with the

I would like to say with the amount of transfers taking place that the office staff and guidance counselors of all of the schools insure that the request and sent records for schools get forwarded in a timely manner. It's the end of the 9 weeks, you get a new student and no report card attached, hell-o administrators - you sign off on the withdrawals. Teachers should not have to spend endless time tracking this .

BombquishaDavis
111
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BombquishaDavis 10/19/10 - 12:40 pm
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I have a hat to throw into

I have a hat to throw into the ring. My daughter was allowed to attend Laney because of the new designation (her grades weren't the best, but with a new attitude maybe there was some hope here)....The No child law supposedly provides transportation. My daughter had no ride. We were promised transportation for 5 weeks when school started....
After 2 weeks, my daughter learned to bring her cell phone, because last August at 5pm in 99 to 100+ degree heat and trying to walk to Hephzibah was no joke. The Title 1 people tried their best to help out, (Thank you Dr. Linda Frazier-- the assistant principal doesn't know your name) my daughter didn't get a bus until after Labor day. She learned to take her cell phone to call people to pick her up. Maybe she was not supposed to have her cell phone, but maybe they should have provided a ride as promised. She got caught with the cell phone and was put on a 10 day suspension. It was overheard that the individual in charge said "I'm going to get all of them out of here". Of course, I transferred my child simply because I don't want my child at a school that doesn't value HER as a student. Actually she had made considerable progress in her schoolwork. My point is this...statistics can be manipulated....(by the way, Anotherlook you got that exactly right!) lets see how much better Laney's success statistics get because they put out the students that probably need the most help.
(Oh yes..there were several parents considering formal complaints to the board. I don't know if they did or did not. I hope so. All I know is for my daughter and me, it was the best move. We should have started at this school in the first place; its a school not a jail)

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