Rodnae, Pexels

When students change schools, they often leave for a campus in another district, a non-Texas public school (e.g., a private school), or a non-district charter school. However, these departures are not always final; student mobility regularly brings students back to their original district. To explore this phenomenon, this study followed cohorts of fifth-grade students from 10 Houston-area school districts to answer the following research questions: What proportion of students left their school district between the fifth and 12th grade? Where did leavers go? How many returned? When did students leave and return? The answers to these questions varied across districts. To highlight the unique patterns of student mobility and the returner phenomenon in the districts, each district is presented and discussed separately. Findings show that patterns of return varied based on whether students left their district but stayed in the Texas public school system (TPSS), left TPSS, or left for a non-district charter.

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