An examination of transfer-absences and school mobility of Puerto Ricans

Date of Completion

January 2000


Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Administration|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




Frequent absences, high mobility, and several school transfers are related to negative academic performance of Hispanic bilinguals (Baecher & Cicchelli, 1992; Kerbow, 1996; Schuler, 1990). Generally, neglected data in the research literature are those studies that address transfers from one school to another and student adjustment to those transfers (Alexander & Entwisle, 1996). A student's decision to leave school before graduation is associated with mobility, family resources, individual school experiences, peers and/or community influences (Bayer, 1982; Moll, 1992). ^ The following ethnographic study examined factors affecting transfer-absences (delayed enrollment when transferring from one school to another) and aspects of school mobility. Five research questions were posed to ten Puerto Rican bilingual students in the fourth grade, their parents or guardians, and school personnel. The Methodology consisted of examining four basic parts: (1) criteria selection for key participants based on transfer and truancy through review of students' cumulative folder; (2) interviews of key participants in their socio-cultural setting/context; (3) data was gathered, documented, compared, and corresponding themes derived; and, (4) results were analyzed, described and results refined. The profile revealed insights about transfer-absences and school mobility as perceived by the ten Puerto Rican students, their parents or guardians and school personnel, in addition to related factors such as motivation, socio-economic status, acculturation, language, education, and culture (Ada, 1993; Harry, 1992). ^ The study's findings revealed many errors and omissions in documented student records; means had to be found to collect more student data. In all ten cases studied, language was a crucial component of all questions addressed in this study. The examination of transfer-absences and school mobility of Puerto Ricans is intended to assist schools in developing specific programs to curtail the Puerto Rican high school drop-out rate currently at 90% and to provide a new perspective about (1) data in student records, (2) patterns of mobility, and (3) reasons for transfers perceived by parents and students one of which is violence in the schools. ^