14 SES 06 B, School-related Transitions: Contributions from Turkey, Ireland and Czechy
Student mobility between schools is quantified and analysed in the context of persistent rural/urban structural differences and growing privatization of compulsory schooling in a post-socialist country.
Horizontal transfers or between school mobility might be result of ordinary spatial mobility in the population. It may even be welcome proof that the education system enables students or parents to make repeated school choices and thus correct a prior choice of school or programme. On the other hand, some cases of horizontal mobility may be cause for concern if they are the result of negative events in the individual’s life, in the teacher-student or teacher-student relationship, or may even be a manifestation of system-wide failure (e.g. schools underserving particular groups of students). Despite the importance of student mobility, wider perspectives, rooted in larger scales of statistical, quantitative data and combining multidisciplinary views are rare even in the international literature (Koinzer, Nikolai & Waldow, 2017). Systematic review has shown that most research on student mobility comes from North America (e.g. Rumberger, 2003; Welsh, 2017; Calibuso & Winsler, 2021). Authors from German-speaking countries focus on between-track mobility in secondary education (e.g. Bellenberg, 2012; Backes & Hadjar, 2017; Blossfeld, 2018).
Schooling in post-socialist Central and East European countries differ from both Anglo-Saxon and German school systems, with student trajectories somewhat resembling those in Nordic comprehensive schooling (Kvalsund, 2000). The focus of our study are the Czech comprehensive schools. In the era of state socialism (1948–1989), all Czech schools were operated by state. Strict control of schools and teachers was of key importance as all education was to advance ruling ideology, but the uniform curriculum and centralized governance of schooling also reduced the disparities in education provision between regions as well as between urban and rural areas. After the fallof Communism, Czech school system underwent radical decentralization. Private or church-operated schools became an option. Individuals and institutions gained more autonomy and academic freedom. However, this led to growingdisparities among regions (the clear division between Prague and the rest of Czechia, with northwest Bohemia scoring lowest on most indicators) and also at the level of individual schools.
Besides, the nominally comprehensive system of compulsory schooling was eroded by return of selective academic schools (“víceleté gymnázium” in Czech): Czech students are sorted into two tiers already after 5th grade: approximately 10% of students enter a selective grammar school (víceleté gymnázium), while the majority of students stay at a comprehensive school (základní škola, “basic school”). The latter exists in two variants with different grade span: either relatively large “full” schools that combine both primary and lower secondary grades (attended by children aged 6–15), or smaller – almost exclusively rural – “incomplete”’ schools where students have to transfer to a new complete basic school after the first five years of primary school. While there are catchment areas (or attendance zones) for public comprehensives, students are free to apply to any school.
Our study provides insight into the structural and personal factors that might motivate or force decisions about and changing school as (revised) school choice in Czechia, by looking at the different patterns of student mobility to and from different types of schools according to operator, grade span and specialisation, and by exploring the role of spatial (geographical) factors in school mobility.
Research questions: How does the mobility patterns differ for different types of schools (public/private; grade span 1 to 5 / grade span 1 to 9; urban/rural)? What is the ratio of residential and non-residential changes in different regions and grades? What is the share of highly mobile students (with repeated transfers within three years)?
This study is based on administrative microdata from the Czech educational registers merged with databases containing geographical information. We performed an explorative analysis of approx. 150 thousand unique events of school change during three school years with the focus on the institutional and spatial aspects of student transfers (complete census-like data for the Czech basic schools). In our study, data from several types of nationwide databases have been merged: 1) Czech National Student Register. These administrative data are semi-annually reported to the ministry of education by the schools. They are fully anonymised to comply with the ethical and legal requirements of personal data protection. 2) School Register contains data on school operator, size; and location. 3) Geographic information databases supplied information about the characteristics of the communities where students live and/or attend the school. The administrative data on all transfers of Czech comprehensive school students between September 2016 to September 2019 were obtained from the data administrator. The first step was to pair the data in the database with the original school and new school for each student, as this information is not contained in the original set. Then we merged the information on each event with background characteristics of school and community. Inductive research aimed at phenomenon and pattern discovery seems to be appropriate for working with this unique combination of datasets. We used exploratory data analysis, mainly data visualisation to spot patterns and outliers, and examine possible clusters and relationships. We obtained fully anonymised files (as far as student personal data are involved) and the project was approved by the institutional review board of Jan Evangelista Purkyne University.
With respect to the empirical aim of the article, our study reports quantitative information on the typology and frequency of horizontal transfer (non-normative change) in the Czech school system. School transfers associated with a residential move (e.g. family moving from one municipality to another) represent only a smaller proportion of all transfers. This corresponds to the fact that residential mobility is significantly lower in Central and Eastern European countries than in Nordic countries or the United States (Caldera Sánchez & Andrews, 2011). We can expect that the decision to change school plays an important role in most transfers. All the non-residential mobility events are being sorted according to the original and final school type and resulting patterns will be presented; with special focus on the rural areas. The methodology for analysing the administrative data has considerable potential but the current system of data collection and management in the Czech school system lags behind that in advanced countries. A key limitation of our study is the lack of information on the socio-economic background and school achievement of mobile students – an important characteristic that is not available in any of the Czech administrative datasets, unlike in many other countries. Other studies have demonstrated that various socio-cultural groups of students are characterised by different patterns of inter-school mobility (e.g. Welsh, 2017). Often students from a disadvantaged background or who are members of ethnic minorities have higher mobility as a result of academic failure, lower educational aspirations or hardship.
Backes, S., & Hadjar, A. (2017). Educational trajectories through secondary education in Luxembourg: How does permeability affect educational inequalities? Revue Suisse des Sciences de l'Education, 39(3), 437-460. Blossfeld, P. (2018). Social background and between-track mobility in the general education system in. West Germany and in east Germany after German unification. Zeitschrift für Soziologie, 47(4), 255-269. Bellenberg, G. (2012). Schulformwechsel in Deutschland. Schulformwechsel in Deutschland – Durchlässigkeit und Selektion in den 16 Schulsystemen der Bundesländer innerhalb der Sekundarstufe I. Bertelsmann-Stiftung. Caldera Sánchez, A., & Andrews, D. (2011). Residential mobility and public policy in OECD countries. OECD Journal: Economic Studies. Calibuso, E., & Winsler, A. (2021). Who switches schools? Child-level predictors of school mobility in middle school students. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 30, 263–275. Koinzer, T., Nikolai, R., & Waldow, F. (2017). Private schools and school choice in compulsory education: Global change and national challenge. Springer Fachmedien. Kvalsund, R. (2000). The transition from primary to secondary level in smaller and larger rural schools in Norway: comparing differences in context and social meaning. International Journal of Educational Research, 33(4), 401-423. Rumberger, R. W. (2003). The causes and consequences of student mobility. Journal of Negro Education, 72(1), 6-21. Welsh, R. O. (2017). School hopscotch: A comprehensive review of K–12 student mobility in the United States. Review of Educational Research, 87(3), 475-511.
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