Policy Matters is a quarterly series of reports that provide timely research and guidance on issues that are of concern to policymakers at the local, state, and national levels.

Volume 1, Issue 1 by Robert K. Ream and Ricardo Stanton-Salazar is entitled: The Uprooted: Student Mobility and Academic Underachievement Among Mexican Americans.


Executive Summary

Latinos constitute a large and rapidly growing segment of the K-12 student population in the United States, and especially so in states such as California. They are also more likely than other students to suffer problems such as academic underachievement and school dropout. This study shows that, while poverty may determine some of these educational disadvantages, high levels of “non-promotional student mobility” also play an important role–contributing to the breakdown of social capital among Mexican American youth and increasing their risk of dropping out. As for the causes of student mobility, this study finds that moves from one school to another are often unrelated to residential moves. Instead, such moves are often initiated by schools or by students themselves who feel alienated in their current schools. Finally, this report suggests that schools need to be held more ac- countable for moves that have detrimental effects on Latino student performance, and of- fers ways for schools and youth peer groups to reduce the incidence of Latino student mo- bility and its detrimental effects on academic performance.

Robert Ream is assistant professor of education at UC Riverside and is the author of a book and several articles on educational attainment and social capital. He has held post- doctoral fellowships at Princeton University and the RAND Corporation, and once served as a legislative aide to former California State Senator Gary K. Hart.

Ricardo Stanton-Salazar is associate professor of education at University of Southern California and has written extensively on the social networks and academic achievement strategies of minority and immigrant urban youth.

For interviews and more information, contact Robert Ream at (951) 827-6054 or by email robert.ream@ucr.edu.