ERIC Identifier: ED296814
Publication Date: 1988-03-00
Author: Rasmussen, Linda
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Rural Education and Small Schools Las Cruces NM.
Migrant Students at the Secondary Level: Issues and
Opportunities for Change. ERIC Digest.
In addition to culture and language differences, migrant students
encounter special problems due to frequent moving, lack of continuity in
schooling, and obligations to contribute to the family financially at an early
age. Their dropout rate is alarming. Steps must be taken at the secondary school
level to serve them more successfully.
WHY ARE THERE SO FEW MIGRANT SECONDARY STUDENTS?
Measuring exact dropout rates for migrant students is difficult, since their
mobility makes accurate counts almost impossible. However, several studies have
revealed that most students leave school in the 9th or 10th grade.
Surveys of dropouts also show that certain factors are strongly correlated
with students' quitting school: --failure in classes; dislike of school; extreme
lack of credits (Morales, 1984); --little involvement in extracurricular
activities; poor grades; extensive migration; dislike of school; perception of
being poorer than other students (Medina, 1982); --limited fluency in English;
history of transiency; lack of self-assurance, support and clarity about goals
(Gilchrist, 1983); --perceived lack of family support and financial pressures
(Nelken and Gallo, 1978); --overage; lack of interest in school; negative
parental attitude (New York State Department of Education, 1965).
What surveys do not reveal are the conditions in the secondary school system
which are adequate for resident students but become detrimental to the success
of the mobile student.
WHAT ARE THE SPECIAL NEEDS OF MIGRANT SECONDARY STUDENTS?
The needs of migrant secondary school students are as varied as the students
themselves. However, need must be determined in order to design programs.
AFFECTIVE NEEDS are perceived by migrant school staff to be at the root of
many students' cognitive failures. Repeated experiences of frustration and
failure, and lack of acceptance due to mobility, have produced low self-concept,
feelings of isolation, and reduced motivation. Provision of a supportive,
positive atmosphere can be highly productive and have great impact on
acceptance, goal setting, and role model identification.
COGNITIVE NEEDS are specific, practical needs for academic success. They
include the following: --Remedial assistance in math, reading, ESL, etc. --Study
skills development --Time management --Academic and vocational guidance
TECHNICAL NEEDS reflect problems which students encounter with school systems
and which affect them individually, but over which they have no control:
--Inappropriate age/grade placement. (This is the highest predictor of dropout
behavior, with a 99% dropout rate for students more than one year overage.)
--Credit deficiencies due to frequent moves and no means for earning partial
credits. --Inadequate knowledge of graduation requirements which vary from
district to district.
Because addressing the needs of migrant students is a multi-level,
multi-faceted undertaking, solutions of many kinds are required. Fortunately,
effective solutions are already available.
WHAT DIRECT SERVICES CAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS OFFER TO ASSIST MIGRANT STUDENTS?
--COUNSELING. Effective migrant student counselors pay particular attention
to credit completion, graduation requirements, status of competency exams,
career and vocational education opportunities, and parental contact. --CREDIT
ACCRUAL. Programs such as California's Portable Assisted Study Sequence (PASS)
enable students to make up or earn extra credits when they are away from school.
--TUTORING. Tutoring centers may be used for credit, credit make-up, ESL
instruction, and after-hours study. Peer tutors who are also migrant students
are especially effective. --EXTENDED DAY/WEEK/YEAR PROGRAMS. Migrant students
have proven to be eager to take advantage of after-school, before-school,
evening, Saturday, and summer programs. Migrant Work-Study and Job Training
Partnership Act (JTPA) positions can provide after-hours career education and
on-the-job training. --SPECIAL SUMMER PROGRAMS. Many summer programs provide
extracurricular and leadership experiences, and motivate students to seek higher
education. Adelante, Yo Puedo, the 4-H Mini-Corps Leadership program, and the
New York State Summer Leadership Conference all provide unique college campus or
outdoor experiences for migrant students.
--WORK EXPERIENCE programs have proved to be one of the most powerful
prescriptions available to migrant staff trying to cure the dropout syndrome.
Such programs provide the least employable students with an opportunity to learn
basic job skills and benefit from the positive effects of the program. These
benefits include ESL practice in a real-life environment, an increased sense of
belonging, financial assistance, academic credit, and possible future
employment. --VOCATIONAL EDUCATION can give migrant students valuable
opportunities to experience careers other than farmworking.
ALTERNATIVE SUPPORT PROGRAMS
--COOPERATIVE PROJECTS are successful in several parts of the country. 4-H,
the Cooperative Extension Service's youth program, assists communities in
organizing clubs that cover topics ranging from nutrition and crafts to
leadership and community service. La Familia is a total educational program
serving the entire migrant family in cooperation with public schools, adult
education, and community colleges. Girl and Boy Scouts, YMCA and YWCA, public
libraries, health organizations, and private businesses have also worked
cooperatively with Migrant Education. --HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY PROGRAMS (HEPs)
are designed to serve high school dropouts. Participants earn high school
equivalency diplomas through individualized, self-paced study programs, and
receive career and cultural education. Over half of the HEP students are from
very low-income migrant families with a prevalence of predictors of educational
failure. Yet the program has met with a great deal of success and enthusiasm
from students and educators alike. Between 1980 and 1984, 85% of HEP
participants passed their general exams (Riley and others, 1985).
Even "successful" migrant children are high-risk students, at both high
school and college levels. For this reason, several follow-up programs have been
designed to provide continued support.
The COLLEGE ASSISTANCE MIGRANT PROGRAM (CAMP) is a Title IV program that
provides tutoring, orientations, and counseling to migrant students planning to
enter the university. CAMP success rates are also impressive.
COLLEGE BOUND is a summer program for high school seniors that helps them
make the transition from high school to college. Students study, work, and
receive assistance and counseling at a college campus. Over 90% of College Bound
students enroll in college the following semester.
MINI-CORPS is a Migrant education teacher training program which is designed
to provide experience and support for teachers-in-training. Classroom assistance
is given to migrant children by a former migrant student who is an identifiable
WHAT CHANGES CAN WE MAKE IN SCHOOL SYSTEMS TO HELP MEET MIGRANT STUDENT
System level changes involve long-term alterations in the way the educational
system serves migrant children. Migrant programs that work within the system to
encourage and train innovative educators can help schools to facilitate, rather
than deter, the success of migrant students.
CHANGE AT THE SCHOOL AND DISTRICT LEVELS
--RESPONSIVE SCHOOL POLICIES have included: -Credit exchange programs to
accommodate frequent moves; -Close monitoring of course credits to prevent
deficiencies; -Credit completion programs, partial credit options, and
supplementary study programs to allow for late fall arrivals and early spring
departures; -In-school alternatives to suspension to avoid unnecessary absences.
--STAFF DEVELOPMENT provides teachers with opportunities to take college courses
in relevant areas such as remedial reading, ESL, Spanish language, and cultural
differences. --ROLE MODELS in schools have a powerful effect on the success of
migrant students. Migrant program workers can encourage the hiring of migrant
and bilingual staff. --PARENT INVOLVEMENT is a strong indicator in student
success. To involve migrant parents, schools must provide notices to parents in
the parents' language; bilingual staff to answer questions; and effective means
for communication between parents, students, teachers, administrators.
--ADVOCACY for student needs is probably the most demanding activity for migrant
staff at the high school level. Migrant staff assert the need for appropriate
class schedules, test and credit make-up, and special tutoring. They also make
student needs known to administrators.
CHANGES AT THE REGIONAL AND STATE LEVELS
--STAFF DEVELOPMENT. Large districts, regions, counties, and states have the
ability to build broad staff development programs. Statewide programs are
common. They keep migrant staff well-trained in methods of teaching migrant
students. Talent exchange policies are effective ways to pass along specialized
knowledge. --MODEL PROGRAMS. State and regional resource centers such as the
Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) help to identify and distribute
information on model programs and special projects in migrant education. These
centers may also contain libraries with a variety of migrant-related material.
--ADVOCACY. The efforts of state and regional programs can influence changes in
migrant education legislation, legal decisions protecting migrant children's
rights, and the interstate adoption of programs such as PASS.
CHANGES AT THE INTERSTATE AND NATIONAL LEVELS
Many organizations and programs have been created to provide technical
assistance for migrant education:
--Migrant Student Record Transfer System (MSRTS) transfers information for
migrant students moving between schools; --Migrant Education Recruitment and
Education Taskforce (MERIT) provides advance information to programs in
receiving states about the movement of migrant families. --Secondary Credit
Exchange (SCE) seeks to improve student credit accrual through communication
between the home-base and receiving schools. --National Association of State
Directors of Migrant Education (NASDME) investigates current research on migrant
education that may prove useful nationwide. --Migrant Educators' National
Training OutReach (MENTOR) provides correspondence courses on educating migrant
students. (Names of other organizations can be obtained from the ERIC
Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools.)
In addition to these programs, information dissemination is an important
service at the national level. Several projects produce national newsletters.
The ERIC/CRESS data base provides special bulletins on migrant education, as
does the Migrant Education Resource List and Information Network (MERIT).
Effective components of a secondary program include: --Establishment of a
comprehensive secondary counseling plan, including academic, career, and
individual counseling. --Comprehensive career experience and work-study
programs. --Parent education programs. --Improved identification and recruitment
of interstate students and dropouts. --District policies that recognize migrant
students' special needs. --Increased options for credit accrual.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Bardelas, R. (Ed.). A MANUAL ON SECONDARY EDUCATION PROGRAMS FOR MIGRANT
STUDENTS. Salem, OR: Migrant Education Service Center, 1980. ED 197 922.
California Department of Education. CALIFORNIA MASTER PLAN FOR MIGRANT
EDUCATION: A GUIDE FOR MIGRANT EDUCATION AT A GLANCE IN CALIFORNIA. Sacramento,
CA: California Dept. of Education, 1976. ED 137 041.
Gilchrist, C. ADDRESSING THE VOCATIONAL/EMPLOYMENT NEEDS OF MIGRANT YOUTH.
Rocky Hill, CT: Connecticut Migratory Children's Program, 1983. ED 237 262.
Ludovina, F. S., and S. C. Morse, (Eds.). PROMISING PRACTICES. Oroville, CA:
Region II, Migrant Child Education, Office of Butte County Superintendent of
Medina, A., D. Hinojosa, and J. M. Martinez. MIGRANT STUDENT DROPOUTS: A
SUMMARY OF THREE YEARS OF STUDY. Corpus Christi, TX: Education Service Center,
Region II, 1982.
Morales, J. EDUCATIONAL OPTIONS FOR MIGRANT SECONDARY STUDENTS. Oneonta, NY:
Interstate Migrant Secondary Service Program, SUNY Oneonta, 1984.
Nelken, I., and K. Gallo. FACTORS INFLUENCING MIGRANT HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TO
DROP OUT OR GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL. Chico, CA: Nelken and Associates, Inc.,
1978. ED 164 245.
New York State Department of Education. WORK-STUDY PROGRAMS FOR POTENTIAL
DROP OUTS. Albany, NY: Author, 1965.
Riley, Gary L., and others. OVERVIEW OF STUDENT CHARACTERISTICS AND PROGRAM
OUTCOMES. HEP/CAMP National Evaluation Project. Research Report No. 2.
Sacramento, CA: Calif. State Dept. of Education, 1985. ED 265 004.
Vela, J. MIGRANT COUNSELOR'S GUIDE. Edinburg, TX: Education Service Center,
Region I, 1981. ED 238 638.