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at-risk students: a closer look

Hollie Wolfe

on 25 September 2012

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Transcript of at-risk

...a closer look. at-risk students ... approximately 9.2 to 15.8 million American youth are considered to be "at risk" (according to a report by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices). Definition:
"At-risk students are those who have been labeled, either officially or unofficially, as being in danger of academic failure."
- wikipedia.org Did you know??? At-risk youth are characterized by:
anger and defiance issues
drug and substance abuse
poor academic performance
lack of personal responsibility
poor family relationships
negative/harmful peer relationships
self-destructive behaviors
sexual promiscuity
withdrawal from favorite activities
low self-esteem and insecurity
externalized behaviors, such as lying, stealing, truancy, and bullying What puts a child at risk? "A child's home and family environments are instrumental in shaping cognitive, social and even physical development."
- Morgan Herbert Wood Because parents are charged with shaping the lives of their children from birth to adulthood, certain types of family environments put children at risk:
single-parent home
older siblings who left school before completion
moving and changing schools at non-traditional times
unsafe behaviors, including drinking and smoking
parental mental illness
poor nutrition and obesity
domestic violence
homelessness With all this influence, perhaps a better definition of "at-risk youths" is "youths who are at risk of being failed by one or more adults."
- International Child and Youth Care Network Other contributing factors include:
limited English proficiency
geographic location
below-average grades
being held back in school
negative peer pressure It has even been argued that the label itself contributes to the problem. As educational philosopher Gloria Ladson-Billings put it, "We cannot saddle these babies at kindergarten with this label and expect them to proudly wear it for the next 13 years, and think,
'Well, gee, I don't know why they aren't doing good.'" Perhaps the greatest contributor to being at risk (even when kids are the same on ethnic background, level of parent education, and family structure) is POVERTY. "Children of poverty are defined as 'young persons who currently live (or have lived a significant period of their childhood) in an environment in which one or more of the resources identified as important for one to develop potential and function effectively in society is unavailable.'"
- dropoutprevention.org They are LESS THAN HALF AS LIKELY to do well in school. Educational implications for children living in poverty include:
falling behind classmates in school
being assigned to lower tracks in education
being retained a grade
being labeled as "problem students"
being absent or truant
earning lower scores on standardized tests of knowledge and achievement "Typically, children who are 'at-risk' struggle to cope with the stress of their lives. Due to pressure, these children are more likely to break down mentally. Whether to gain attention or as a means to get what they want, they [become] involved in behaviors that not only compromise themselves but others as well."
- Julie Boehlke So, what can we do?? They may also exhibit signs of distress, appear detached from other children, have poor personal hygiene, and portray unusual behavior in the classroom and toward peers. Prevention "Children who are at risk need support to reach obtainable goals and follow the right path for themselves. After-school programs, school-related sports and teen clubs ... provide children a safe outlet that gives them goals to work with."
- Julie Boehlke Advocacy, through community involvement and volunteer work, is a key component in improving the quality of life for youth at risk. Schools, too, can make a BIG difference in how successful children can be by:
developing high-quality, meaningful relationships
providing health-related services
cultivating family and community partnerships
aligning classroom instruction with required/tested standards
motivating the unmotivated
building academic background knowledge
designing and delivering purposeful instruction
providing strong and supportive leadership "...and the role of the teacher has emerged as most important."
- dropoutprevention.org "Students' academic performance (as much as 43%) can be traced to the quality of the teachers in the classroom."
- dropoutprevention.org By encouraging students to take risks, teachers build self-confidence and self-esteem. This is achieved by:
creating a supportive environment in which students can succeed
making clear the rewards for completing tasks and consequences for acting irresponsibly
challenging students to take academic risks
encouraging careful decision making based on strengths and limitations
offering opportunities to develop reasoning and problem-solving skills
supporting students as they try new ideas and learn how to be resourceful "Moreover, the dropout rate for low-income students is 5 times higher than that of high-income counterparts."
- dropoutprevention.com "Policymakers, educators, industry leaders and citizens must take serious stock in the direction our society is moving with regard to youth and the role we can and must play in influencing it."
- International Child and Youth Care Network And at an age when just "fitting in" is vital, fostering active inclusion, both academically and socially, is equally important:
be sensitive to the special needs of parents with low incomes when designating activities such as fundraisers and homework that may require computer access
familiarize yourself with local services available to low-income families
encourage participation in high-quality, after-school programs and sports activities The goods news is there are many programs available for at-risk youth... ...but timely intervention is key. Big Brothers and Big Sisters develops "positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people." As the nation's largest donor and volunteer-supported mentoring network, they operate under the belief that "every child has the inherent ability to succeed and thrive in life." Big Brothers and Big Sisters offers programs designed to "positively impact a child for the better, forever." result is "confident kids today and contributing and engaged adults tomorrow." Their programs encourage neighborhood youth to take "a greater interest in learning and making smarter life choices." The YMCA believes "the values and skills learned early on are vital building blocks for life." They should also be designed to meet the diverse cultural and special needs of the at-risk youth they serve while providing treatment for the whole family through counseling and outreach services. Effective intervention programs should focus on building the youth's strengths while addressing problems with self-esteem and establishing usable skills. They teach children and teens
values and
positive behaviors
while exploring their
unique talents and interests and
helping them realize their potential "...just the location can be a real boost."
- At Risk Youth Programs In addition to the daily routine of solo and group therapy sessions, these camps offer well-planned outdoor activities, healthy diets, and plenty of fresh air while instilling confidence, strength, and responsibility as at-risk youth develop new perspectives and skills for dealing with transitions in life. Outdoor camps, such as The Intercept Program, offer wilderness expeditions year round for teens struggling with destructive behaviors. There are also numerous schools designed specifically to meet the needs of at-risk youth. Shelterwood is a therapeutic boarding school that provides opportunity for "changes in behavior and motivation from the inside out." It provides
excellence in academics and
life-changing therapy
with a year-long journey for teens that fosters
dynamic growth through small class sizes
one-to-one mentoring
small group discussions
recreational activities and
day-to-day living in community Examples of remediation include:
child care services
medical care
substance abuse awareness programs
bilingual instruction
truancy and absenteeism intervention But a lot of intervention takes place right at the local school district level with the use of inclusive strategies... The government is now recognizing that a decline in federal support coupled with higher standards has had a detrimental impact on
at-risk students in particular. As a result, intervention programs that support school districts struggling to help their students along with incentives for the districts who have shown success in remediation of their
at-risk students have been established. Title I allots money to school districts based on census counts, and that money is used to:
hire teachers
purchase supplies and
fund intervention programs for at-risk students It appropriates funds to local educational agencies for the education of children in low-income families as well as assists school districts with programs for the prevention of dropouts and the improvement of schools. Additionally, careful modifications to the curriculum and instruction allow the at-risk child to stay in the inclusive classroom:
give directions/instructions in limited numbers, verbally, and in a simplified written format
reduce and modify assignments
increase one-on-one time while other students are working
maintain a working contract with the at-risk student in an effort to keep tasks prioritized and ensure completion of assignments
provide hands-on tasks, including (but not limited to) the use of calculators and recorders
present tests orally and in smaller increments
provide seating with limited classroom distraction
involve the parents
involve the at-risk student Effective and purposeful education along with prevention and timely intervention are the keys to successful transition from "at-risk" youth to productive and influential citizen. at risk... And Arkansas, in particular, ranks among the highest in percentage of children living in poverty.
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