Migrant students are a unique at-risk population. They face frequent educational interruptions as their families relocate to obtain seasonal or temporary employment in agriculture or fishing. In addition, migrant students' academic difficulties may be compounded by other problems including poverty, language barriers, and unique health problems. To provide supplemental instructional and support services that address the special needs of these students, Congress first legislated the Migrant Education-Basic Grant Program (MEP) under Title I, Part C, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1966, and reauthorized the program in 1994. A key requirement of the program is the maintenance and timely transmission of student records when the students change schools.
Summer-term projects are an important component of the MEP. They are designed to provide continuity of instruction for migrant students who experienced educational disruptions during the school year (U.S. Department of Education 1999).
To investigate the services provided by MEP summer-term projects and to document the record maintenance and transmittal procedures used by these projects, a nationally representative survey of 1998 MEP summer-term projects was conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) through its Fast Response Survey System (FRSS). Specifically, information was collected on (1) project characteristics, including enrollment size, type of population served, and technical assistance received from the project's state; (2) types of instructional and social support services offered, such as reading and math instruction, health services, transportation, and food; and (3) projects' student records systems, including the types of student information available and the ways in which records are transmitted, received, and used by MEP summerterm projects.
About 1,700 Migrant Education Program summerterm projects operated in 1998. These projects provided instructional and support services for about 262,000 migrant students during that time. MEP summer-term projects operated an average of 6 weeks during 1998. These programs typically began in June (69 percent) or July (21 percent) and ran through July (50 percent) or August (40 percent).
Most MEP summer-term projects operating in 1998 were small; 58 percent of the projects had student enrollments of less than 100, while 21 percent of the projects had enrollments of 100 to 250, and another 21 percent of projects had enrollments greater than 250. MEP summer-term projects were more likely to serve students of all ages than only elementary-age students (63 compared with 34 percent). Projects were also more likely to be located in rural than suburban communities (54 compared with 36 percent), and least likely to be found in urban communities (11 percent).
To help migrant students meet their state's content and performance standards, a top priority of MEP summer-term projects is to provide a range of supplemental educational instruction for these students. MEP summer-term projects operating in 1998 provided instructional services in core academic areas (reading, other language arts, math, science, and social science) and other instructional areas and activities. Most of the projects provided instruction in reading (96 percent), other language arts (88 percent), and math (87 percent), although they were less likely to provide science instruction (57 percent) or social science instruction (48 percent). A substantial proportion of MEP summer-term projects also provided instruction in other areas. For example, a majority of the projects (69 percent) offered bilingual education, about half offered preschool education, and close to one-third offered special education and GED or high school equivalency instruction.
Migrant children were provided with specific support services to overcome some of the problems that might impede their ability to do well in school. The most common support services provided by MEP summer-term projects were home-school liaison/social worker/advocate (84 percent of projects), transportation (78 percent), and meals (68 percent). Projects were less likely to provide medical or dental treatment, personal life counseling, medical or dental screening, and clothing (between 36 to 43 percent), and they were least likely to provide day care services for their students' families (13 percent).
The proportion of MEP summer-term projects offering various support services-medical or dental screening, meals, medical or dental treatment, clothing, transportation, and homeschool liaison, and day care-differed somewhat by enrollment size; projects with enrollments of fewer than 100 students were less likely than larger projects to provide any of the services. For example, the proportion of projects offering meal services ranged from 56 percent for projects with fewer than 100 students to 84 percent for larger projects.
Timely transfer of student records is important to provide continuity in addressing the needs of migrant students (U.S. Department of Education 1999). To explore the extent to which MEP summer-term projects in 1998 had immediate access to student records, the survey asked about the proportion of students for whom academic records, student portfolios, or other indicators of school performance were available. Records were available at the start of the project for 74 percent of students. These records were most likely already on file because the majority of students served by the projects were enrolled in the school district for at least part of the 1997-1998 school year. For students without available records at the start of the project, records for 10 percent were obtained within the first week of attendance, and records for an additional 4 percent of the students were received after the first week. However, for 12 percent of students enrolled in 1998 MEP summer-term projects, various academic records were never obtained.
Almost all MEP summer-term projects (90 percent) reported that information on last grade completed was available for all or most of their students. In addition, about half of the projects had records containing achievement test scores for all or most of their students, and 41 percent of the projects had transcript records for all or most of their students. Reporting on the availability of other types of student data, about two-thirds of MEP projects indicated that health data and information on students' limited English proficiency were available on records for all or most of their students.
Projects reported that a majority of migrant students' records were already on file (74 percent). For records not already on file, 7 percent were obtained by request from the students' previous schools, 4 percent were automatically sent by the previous schools or obtained through a multistate electronic database, 3 percent were obtained through a state MEP office or hand-carried by parents, and 2 percent were obtained through an informal briefing with the students' previous schools.
Forwarding records to the students' next schools was the most common method of transmitting student records at the completion of the 1998 summer term; 60 percent of the projects indicated they always or usually transmitted records this way. Projects were less likely to report that they always or usually held records until they were requested by the students' next schools or forwarded records to the state MEP office (44 percent). They were least likely to forward records to a multistate MEP database (24 percent) or to give records to students to hand-carry (11 percent).