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At Risk Students

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Abstract
Nearly one million students drop out of school nationwide. This paper attempts to define these students and explore the causes and possible interventions. This paper contains a literature review and references.

At Risk Students
At risk, students are those students the school districts consider for high potential for dropping out of school or academic failure throughout their school career. There are many indicators, which recognize these students. Each school district has a variety of programs available to the at risk student.
Each city town and state has a different accountability system and each define student dropout differently. There are adults on the streets without a diploma, General Education Development (GED), or some alternative high school education. These adults for chose to end their educational careers in their adolescent years and their future are grave for this population. (TEA, 2004)
History of education in the United States.
As the need for a more literate society, came the push for public education in the early 1600??™s with the invention of the Gutenberg Press.
Public Law 94142 each child has the right to a free and appropriate education. There are laws governing the procedures of the styles/types of education. However, receiving an education is not mandatory. Once enrolled in an educational setting the laws state the child will continue his or her educational career. Texas law has changed over the years as to the age limit to which a student can drop out of school. At one time it was sixteen years. It currently is 18. (TEA 2004)
In the early 1800??™s drop-out rates were high due working conditions. The majority of the United States was a rural environment. Children, especially male, were expected to assist with bring in the crops. As time progressed and people began to move in the cities, children were expected to go to school. During this time students were taught reading, math and manners. Children not in schools worked in local factories under deplorable conditions.
As time passed, United States began to mandate what public education should be, who should be required to attend and how long children should be required to attend. Yet, still no laws actually enforcing children to get an education.
After school programs have been around since the late 1800??™s. These programs usually included athletics, clubs, and refinement activities. The goal of such programs was to keep kids off the streets, out of mischief, and protect them from the dangers of street life. It was only in the twentieth century when these programs began to include academics. As more states began to rely on standardized test scores and teacher accountability has increased, educators have had to begin considering alternatives to address student drop-out rates.
Identifying the AT-Risk Student:
The at-risk student is the student who is between sixteen and twenty-four who is not in a secondary school program and does not have a high school diploma or its equivalent. (TEA 2002). At risk children are grouped on their status on functional and demographic indicators of risk. Functional indicators of risk include the child??™s attention, externalizing behavior, social skills, and academic ability. Documentation of these factors comes from the teacher as early as kindergarten. (Hamre and Pianta).
School districts have a long list of factors which declare a student at risk. Among the qualifying factors of a child at risk is, family background, Children of mothers with less than four years of college are considered at risk. poor communication skills, grade level failures in the elementary level, attendance, abuse, poverty, unstable families, homeless, pregnancy, learning and physical disabilities, discipline marriage, military dependents, emancipated children, frequent absences, multiple office referrals, parent neglect, banded from school after school programs, frequent family moves, failure on one or more parts of the state mandated tests, cultural factors, drug and substance abuse, family trauma, poverty, legal/court, family failures, increasing expectation on students within school districts, special education placement, peer pressure, self esteem, gifted, and a host of others. (TEA 2004 & Anthony 2008)
Cultural factors
The United States has also seen the dropout rates decline in the minority cultures, the dropout rates in 1992 were 21 percent for non-Hispanic blacks, 12 percent among non-Hispanic whites, and 34 percent for Hispanics. The rates have declined for each group by 2005. The dropout rate for non-Hispanic blacks had declined to 11 percent in 2005. However the rates of black male dropout had doubled between 1980 and 1999. The overall Hispanic dropout rates continued to decline from 30 percent in 1998 to 23 percent in 2005. (Child Trend 2005)
The average student graduating from high school will have the minimum skills to compete or function in today??™s technological society. Job skills of the drop out population may or may not be at the minimum skill level. This population will struggle to find meaningful work unless motivated by some external force, e.g. beginning own families or pride issues.
(Child Trend 2005)
Most secondary schools require a high school diploma for admittance. Junior colleges and vocational schools will accept the GED. High school dropouts are more likely to be unemployed than high school graduates. While dropouts must begin at entry-level positions and be paid minimum wages, high school graduates may begin employment at above minimum wage and increase their income.
The students who return to obtain a GED is also on the rise due to rising qualifications of employment skills, with in the eighth year of their original expected graduation. (Child Trend
2005)
Family background/stressors
Many dropout students come from volatile family backgrounds. Children going through divorce, multiple marriages of parents, illnesses, deaths, adults joining or leaving the household are at risk. Older children left to tend to the younger children while parent(s) work minimum wage jobs tend to see education as nothing more than an inconvenience. Children who are from families who move a lot see little control over their environment and want dropping out tends to give them that control.
Although, parents may not realize that their attitudes toward education may also be a factor for the student considering dropping out. Such things as ???what are the parental goals of the student, what was the parental educational accomplishment, what was the parents response to the student??™s report card, how much assistance was the parent to the child during the early education stages, and how did the parents react to the inquiries of the child??™s teacher, who do the children go home to, how long are they alone unaccompanied by a responsible adult, what is the nightlife like of the parents All of these questions set tones or predictors as to how the student will react to school and its environment If the family life is traumatic and non supportive, it becomes easier for the child to slip into an area where they are not noticed. If the family is supportive, the child finds it easier to slip into a comfortable successful educational career.
School Experiences
Many children entered the school environment with wide eye anticipation. While many students do have success, for whatever reason, the student who has taken center stage was the child with poor social skill. If these children felt bullied, neglected or suffered a traumatic event in school, this could also be a factor contributing to school drop out. The teacher??™s reaction to perception of these children would also contribute to the drop out rate.
The classroom size and time spent in one room causing self regulating of behavior by student can also be a stressor for some of these children. Today the class size leaves little time for the much need-individualized attention of younger students.
Immigration factors
Foreign-born students had a dropout rate of twenty-four percent in 2005, when compared with sixteen percent for children born in the U.S. to foreign-born parents, both of which are higher than the national average. While foreign-born students make up 11 percent of the total population of students in this age group, they make up 29 percent of the dropout population. (Child Trends)
Possible Causes
Poor school attendance jeopardizes academic success of students. (TEA 2004)
Gender Factors
In 2005, 11 percent of males ages 16 to 24 were high school dropouts, compared with 8
percent of females. Although males comprise 51 percent of the population, they make up 58 percent of the dropouts in this age group. (Child Trend)
Interventions
High school level students feel the length of time in class is too long. Among the complaints of classes offered, interviewed students stated, the subject material is out dated and geared toward the college bound student.
Some schools are beginning to listen to some of the student complaints. Copperas Cove and Killeen ISD have begun a partnership with the local junior college affording duel credit for classes taken during high school. These credits are free of charge. Classes like these give high achieving students the opportunity to earn college credit while meeting TEA high school requirements. (CCISD, KISD)
Many schools are offering Extended Year Programs. While students are taking advantage of these programs, many school districts focus on the reading and math. These classes are computer generated. Many students learn the computer program and not the skills. The students, which learn these skills, are learning below the minimum standard for graduation and may lack the skills to compete in the technological world; however, they will have the skills to enter a junior college. Now there is not enough research to support the success of these programs. (TEA 2004)
Self-paced credit recovery labs, computer based algebra, credit recovery programs before and after school. Learning center credit recovery programs during the school day, alternative school settings
Ninth grade success initiative: Increased funding was added toward enhancing already established programs, or creating new programs to increase academic performance and attendance rates and reduce dropout rates for ninth graders who had not earned??”or were unlikely to earn??”sufficient credit to advance to tenth grade or eight graders who were promoted but considered academically at risk. (TEA 2004)
Texas after school initiative (TASI) programs another program enacted to decrease the dropout rate. The goal of TASI programs are increasing academic achievement, decreasing student involvement in the legal system, and getting parent and local mentors involved in activities targeting at-risk middle school students. The 77th Texas legislature renewed TASI??™s $10.5 million appropriation for the 2002-03 biennium. (TEA 2004, p. 37)
Schools offer credit recovery programs funded by federal grants. These programs are usually free to students who have failed classes or have fallen behind in credits. They are offered after and during school hours.
Schools offer summer programs to students beginning as early as the 3rd grade. These programs were designed to improve academic skill, keep students at grade level, increase test scores, and if possible afford the student the luxury of getting ahead during high school years. African
American students were more likely to enroll in summer school programs, which typically helped students to recover for failed courses, rather than program interventions during regular school programs.
Results
The United States has always dealt with the issue of student dropout rates.
United States began to see a decline in the dropout rate in the civilian and non-institutionalized population. The dropout rate had declined from fifteen percent in 1972 to 9 percent in 2005. (Child Trend 2005)
TEA reports varying results. School districts with large populations saw little or no change. School districts have begun relooking at their dropout rates and reclassifying how a student were coded.
The available research on after-school programs generally showed mixed results. A number of studies have shown positive impacts of after-school programs on non-academic measures such as reductions in risky behavior and increases in positive peer relationships and conflict resolution (Buhring, Bluem & Rienhart 2000; Pierce, Hamm, & Vandell, 199; Zill, Nord, & Loomis, 1995 as cited in Miller 2001)
Overall research has shown some positive impacts of after-school programs on academic and non-academic measures: however, the small scale nature and non-experimental design of many of these studies limit their research data. (TEA 2004, p. 38)
National Goals
The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law January 2002, aims to make sure that all children achieve academic proficiency and gain the educational skills necessary to succeed later in life. The act intends for all students to graduate within four years of starting high school. It also attempts to ensure that children are monitored at an early age to ensure that all children succeed and aims to reduce the achievement gap between subgroups. (ED. Gov)
As adults we want to define what we believe success should be and we want to assist students in following into our definition. If I compare the majority Texas school programs to their counter parts in other areas, I find it lacking. The child is not in control of his or her educational plan. We have a mindset which sees every student as college bound. The vocational programs are dwindling rapidly with in the school system. If one child is lost because, we as adults did not listen to the cries, and then this is one loss to many.

References
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Anonymous, Child trends data bank(2005)Dropout rates http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/
Anthony, E. K. (2008). Cluster profiles of youths living in urban poverty: Factors affecting risk
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