Mitigating Student Mobility: New Student Placement Interviews

Since the holiday break, my count for new students enrolling in my elementary building is at seven. Research is very clear about the negative effects mobility has on students’ achievement and social/emotional well being. There is also evidence that new students coming into a classroom can impact the learning of the students already there. According to a 2009 study from Notre Dame, when there is an addition to a class roster, current students get less attention, classroom routines are disrupted, and the pace of instruction slows to allow for the new student to catch up.

With this knowledge, it behooves any school to be proactive on this matter. One tool we have used in the past is a new student placement interview form. For a variety of reasons we have not been consistent about this practice. Subsequently, students may be having a harder time acclimating to their new environment. Being reflective practitioners, we have concluded that this tool is essential to getting to know our new students and ease the transition process when they come to us.

When a family registers, either my social worker, guidance counselor or I will sit down with the student and/or parent to ask them the following questions. If this is not possible, we then call the child’s previous school to get more information from a teacher or principal.


This interview form is especially useful for my building. We have multiple sections at every grade level. Therefore we have more options for placement of these students to better meet their academic and social/emotional needs.


Do you have a process such as this in place? If not, how do you transition your new students into your school? Ideas and feedback are always welcome on this blog.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District ( Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD ( and Lead Literacy (

2 thoughts on “Mitigating Student Mobility: New Student Placement Interviews”

  1. Matt,
    I applaud your school’s efforts to personalize the induction process for new students. As the research indicates, high rates of mobility can have a devastating impact on educational outcomes. The student interview questions listed above are great. Our school has a similar process with five phases that lasts about 10 weeks overall –

    Thanks for sharing this post and the great ideas. It’s nice to see what steps other schools are taking to welcome new students and meet emotional and academic needs.


    1. Chris, this is an impressive framework. Nothing is left to chance; students couldn’t fall through the cracks if they wanted to. I am going to share it with my office team. It seems like it might fit in well with our PBIS initiative. Thanks for sharing!


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