Student Mobility for Youth in the Foster Care System

Previous research shows that student mobility may be disruptive for student educational success, health outcomes, and social development. OCID and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) have published analyses revealing that graduation rates for mobile students were 30 to 40 percentage points lower than for nonmobile students, and that student mobility was more common for certain groups of students, especially students who are also in the foster care system. This brief builds upon OCID and ODE’s previous work by examining student mobility within the foster care population.

Highlighted Key Findings

Student mobility was common among foster youth, particularly outside-district transitions

Ninety-four percent of foster youth experienced student mobility at some point during their K 12 education, and foster youth were more than twice as likely to experience outside-district transitions than their peers.

Student mobility is high throughout foster youths’ educational experience

Foster youth had high student mobility rates throughout their educational experience (both during and outside of foster care episodes), regardless of the number of foster care placements. This indicates there are other factors driving the high student mobility rates among this population than the foster care experience alone (for example, family instability, juvenile justice involvement, school discipline, disability status, deep poverty).

Graduation rates varied more by number of school transitions than by number of placements

Graduation rates did not vary substantially as the number of foster care placements increased (for those who experienced the same number of school transitions). However, graduation rates were lower among youth who experienced more transitions, regardless of the number of placements. Therefore, the number of school transitions a student experiences appears to be more closely tied to graduation rates than the number of foster care placements.

Featured Data Visualization

Graduation rates of mobile foster care students by number of placements and transitions

Related OCID Resources

Class of 2020: Midyear School Transitions

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Look at the Class of 2020: Midyear School Transitions analysis to learn about another main factor related to 4-year high school graduation.

Class of 2020: Foundational Analyses

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This set of foundational analyses examines available state data on the lifespan of students from birth to graduation age in 2020, including equity components and connections across multiple publicly funded programs.

Visualizing Oregon’s High School Class of 2020

Explore the lifespan of students and education outcomes by equity characteristics and indicators of income insecurity and family or housing instability.