Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, assistant professor and Ben Pogodzinski, associate professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the College of Education, quoted in Chalkbeat and Bridge.

Return to news listing

Chalkbeat, Bridge, 10/1

The children of 8B: One classroom, 31 journeys, and the reason it’s so hard to fix Detroit’s schools

By Erin Einhorn and Chastity Pratt Dawsey 

A recent analysis by two Wayne State University professors found that roughly one in three elementary school students changes schools every year — often in the middle of the school year. When the Wayne State professors, Sarah Winchell Lenhoff and Ben Pogodzinski, analyzed data from Detroit district and charter schools in the 2015-16 school year, they found that nearly 60 percent of students who live in Detroit — almost 50,000 children — were enrolled in two or more Detroit schools that year. Many had apparently boomeranged, returning eventually to the school where they started. This kind of enrollment turmoil has a debilitating impact on schools, dragging down test scores, exacerbating behavioral issues, fueling dropout rates, and making it more difficult for all children to learn — not just those who are on the move. In short, it’s a major — but often unrecognized — reason why improving urban schools has become one of the most intractable problems facing American cities. “They’re taking a risk with little evidence that these different schools they’re enrolling in are going to be that much better for their child. And they’re maybe not fully aware of the potential harmful effect of the move itself, Lenhoff said. “It’s a chaotic system,” Pogodzinski said. “If kids are moving in and out, you can’t build the systems in the school that are helpful and necessary to create a rich educational environment