November 17, 2020 | Exposure to violence in and around urban elementary schools is associated with students, particularly more-affluent ones, transferring to other schools, according to a study reported in the American Educational Research Journal and co-authored by McREL research director Faith Connolly
The research team compared data from public elementary schools and the police department in Baltimore to see if acts of violence on or near the school grounds, during school hours or in the early evening, translated into students transferring away from the school the following summer. They found that a doubling of violence led to a 4 percent increase in the overall chances of transfer. Among the poorest students the increase was only 2 percent but among the most affluent, it spiked to 11 percent—suggesting more families would have liked to transfer their children out but lacked the resources to do so.
“Instability and student churning plagues many urban districts, and these findings underscore how difficult it is for schools to function in an environment where many students and families are exposed to frequent violence,” said lead author Julia Burdick-Will, a professor at Johns Hopkins University.
Since “student churning” creates even more instability for students, efforts should be made to create safe zones around schools and keep enrollments steady, the research team advised.