At-risk. It’s a catchy term in education. It’s a scary term to most. No one wants their students to be considered ‘at-risk’, but the fact remains, certain criteria can make a student more or less likely to succeed, whether that’s completing the next grade or graduating high school. Educators have toiled for years, decades even, to understand what causes students to dropout and how they can resist. But why? Why is it so important for a student to receive a high school diploma? Why do we make such a big deal in this country when our kids suit up in a cap and gown? It’s certainly not the fashion statement.
I’ll tell you why high school graduation is so important. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average dropout can expect to earn an annual income of $20,241. That’s roughly $10,000 less than the typical high school graduate, and $36,000 less than someone with a bachelor’s degree. While the income potential is lower, the incarceration and unemployment rates are much higher for the high school dropout. More on the costs of high school dropout rates found here. It’s a problem. Everyone knows it. But how do we fix it?
1 - Take a good look at your students….no really a good look. Not just aggregates, charts, and graphs. Not just school-level assessment scores. Look at individual students (aww look how cute they are). At SchoolStatus, we provide our digital Student Card. It’s all the information you would want on a student...including his or her picture. Not to discount pretty charts and graphs. They have a place. But it’s only on the student level that you can See the Whole Student. It’s all important. It all matters. Three missed Fridays in a row and then a 64 on the next math test? It matters. Two disciplinary infractions disrupting the bus (not that I don’t know a thing or two about getting in trouble on the bus. I mean, after a long day, aren’t we all cranky?) Two phone conversations with the student’s mom where she shared the fact that they lack internet service at home? We think it matters.
2 - Keep track of at-risk criteria...every single day.
Newsflash: students can change….fast. One day it’s Carebears, the next day it’s Power Rangers, and then Rihanna. (Are those still relevant? Am I showing my age card?) One day a student is doing fine in Algebra and then suddenly a few missed days, one bad test, and now she’s on a downward spiral. The SchoolStatus At-Risk Module tracks it all, and tracks it nightly. We think it matters.
3 - Engage, engage, engage...and then engage again.
Another newsflash: kids spend more time outside of the classroom than they do inside it. In other words, a student’s home life plays a huge role in the success he or she experiences at school. If we aren’t reaching out to parents to understand the intricacies of their home life, we aren’t fully understanding the student. It matters. SchoolStatus allows teachers and administrators to make phone calls, send text messages, and emails directly to parents without revealing personal cell phone numbers. I believe every parent truly wants their child to succeed. Often times, parents don’t have the knowledge, skills, or information to help. Those extra phone calls or texts can be the difference in an engaged parent and thus, an engaged student. We think it matters.
It’s not a problem we’re going to solve overnight, but it’s a problem we can tackle a little bit easier with SchoolStatus’ tools for identifying, tracking, and engaging at-risk students to change trajectories. We think it matters.
Leslie Ortego is the Head of Operations for SchoolStatus, but that title doesn't do her job justice. Leslie is beyond dedicated to creating tools for educators that actually make a difference in a student's life. Find out more about how SchoolStatus pairs student data with real communication tools here.