At-Risk Students in Danger of Failing

At-Risk Students in Danger of Failing
  • Opening Intro -

    It should not come as much of a surprise that at-risk students have a greater risk in failing.

    These students are identified as coming from select ethnic minorities and include English language learners, students with disabilities and low-income families.


Primary and secondary education intervention is needed.

Moreover, they start off “far off track” academically and just cannot get back on track in time for college.

Early Warning Tests

ACT, administrator of the ACT test, found that students who finished at least a full standard deviation below the “on track” target for their grade level were especially at risk. Select tests are first administered in the fourth grade and again in the eighth grade, with both tests tracking educational readiness.

The report — Catching Up to College and Career Readiness: The Challenge is Greater for At-Risk Students — found that just 2 percent of low-income, far-off-track eighth graders were able to meet ACT’s College Readiness Benchmark for science by the time they finished high school. The study did note that the pool of fourth graders that were similarly behind had a better chance of catching up by eighth grade with 9 percent meeting the eighth grade science benchmark.

Science and Math Preparation

The report also showed a similar pattern with mathematics. By high school graduation, only 1 percent of low-income, far-off-track students were able to recover. Some 5 percent that scored low in fourth grade were able to boost their performance by eighth grade. Thus, students who fared better from fourth to eighth grade were given a better chance of being prepared for college.

“The findings for at-risk students are particularly concerning,” said Scott Montgomery, ACT vice president of policy, advocacy and government relations. “Preparation gaps that are already evident in elementary school appear to become harder to close as students progress through school. The findings are an urgent reminder of the need to monitor student performance and intervene as early as possible.”

Two-State Study

The ACT report is based on data culled from two states: Kentucky and Arkansas, covering 245,000 students. Each state’s education agency supplied ACT with the required data to connect student enrollment and test records across grade spans with further disaggregation to place students in demographic groups.

ACT’s report is just one of many studies conducted down through the years that identifies students at risk. In the seminal 1989 report titled, Reducing the Risk: Schools as Communities of Support, the authors examined the problem of dropping out of schools in the US while also looking at those schools that successfully served at-risk students. That report offered several policy changes including various interventions that some have since undertaken.

See AlsoDon’t Allow Bad Grades to Keep You From College


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Categories: Campus News