How To Recognize At-Risk Students

At-risk students can be found in schools at every socioeconomic level. It is important that educators learn how to recognize the signs of at-risk students, but they must also know how to help these students succeed in academics. In many schools across the nation, there are support teams, often called Building Base Support Teams, which are created to track these students and to offer guidance throughout their academic career. These teams are typically comprised of several teachers and at least one administrator.  

While it is important that the members of these support teams learn how to recognize at-risk students, this responsibility must also be placed upon the entire faculty and staff, as well as the parents of these children. If a teacher or parent feels that a student is at-risk for academic failure, or they suspect that this student is having personal problems, they should document any evidence that they are aware of, including behavioral signs and falling grades, and give this to the appropriate team members or responsible faculty, as well as notify the child's guardian. At-risk students typically exhibit one or more of the following signs: 

  1. Negative Behavior In many instances, an at-risk student is recognizable simply by the change in his behavior. A usually well-behaved child may begin to show signs of belligerence or rebellion. 
  2. Drop in Academic Performance In many cases, an at-risk student may be recognized by a sudden drop in grades. This may indicate that something troubling is going on in this student's life. 
  3. Poor School Attendance Sometimes the first sign that a student is at-risk is an increased amount of absences. The school should notify the parent or guardian immediately and continue to keep track of this student's attendance. 
  4. Change in Friendships Peer pressure is very strong among young people, and sometimes the wrong friends can have a drastic affect on the behavior of a child. If a student is already on the verge of being at-risk, these negative relationships could further influence his decline in behavior and/or academic performance. 
  5. Lack of Motivation Students who suddenly begin to sleep in class, refuse to hand in schoolwork, and stop participating in the classroom should be considered at-risk, also. 
  6. Poor Hygiene Sometimes even simple clues such as poor hygiene can signal that a student is at-risk. 
  7. Withdrawal and/or Isolation Finally, two of the most obvious signs that a student is at-risk is withdrawal from friends and family, and isolation of self. If a student appears to become withdrawn, refrains from socializing, and becomes isolated from those around him, then he should be considered at-risk.    


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