We are usually pointing to our students who excel behaviorally and academically as the beacons of hope in our school districts. It’s easy to do. Are they not proof that what we do to mold and shape these young minds in our educational care is effective enough?
When we think of students at risk we are almost always calling to mind the ones who have spent more time in the principal’s office than they have in their classrooms. When students are neither doing poorly nor causing any commotion how much time is invested in making sure they are feeling good about their educational experience?
The students we consider to be falling through the proverbial cracks may not all necessarily be our troublemakers. Students at risk are considered those who are in jeopardy of failing academically or students who are likely to drop out of school altogether. Since your typical good kid in school is neither of these definitions, how could they be considered one of the student demographics in the at-risk population?
Perhaps what we define as at-risk characteristics needs to change in light of the recent alarming scramble to get a handle on student mental health issues. It could be the next student at risk for tragedies besides dropping out is not the one causing problems during the school day but the one who floats down the halls silently, feeling ignored, overlooked, or just plain invisible. Does anyone really care?
Students At Risk Could Be Those Who Emotionally Compensate A Little Too Well
Many adults who survived traumatic childhoods have reported how their plights went unnoticed; they were too good at pretending that nothing was wrong. The easiest thing to do was to show up in school during the week, put a smile on their faces and make sure they didn’t make any waves. As long as things looked alright, there wouldn’t be any trouble in school or disciplinary notes sent home to caregivers who may make the situation worse.
In this scenario, these students are definitely at risk. Children who have 2 or more ACEs are at an increased risk for addictive behavior patterns as a means to escape the emotional stress in their lives.
Teens who develop substance abuse issues are at a tremendous risk for academic failure and/or dropping out of school. A child who seems to be fine may not be doing well at all. How can we accurately assess whether or not students are at risk if we aren’t getting to know them?
Some early indicators to consider:
- The student doesn’t engage with peers well
- Shys from opportunities to participate in classroom activities
- Doesn’t make direct eye contact when spoken to directly
- Makes no attempts to enjoy accolades or accomplishments
While neither of any these one things is an indicator of childhood trauma or mental health concerns, changes in behavior towards these characteristics certainly can.
What If You Could Review The Educational History Of Students At Risk?
One of the most difficult challenges of any school administrator who has a student at risk or a student suspected of being at risk is not really having an accurate picture of the student’s behavior outside of any reports made from a special education team member or old report cards. If this student is new to a school or your school district, where can faculty and staff go to research any changes in behavior that may indicate whether the student is at risk?
eCare Vault is the solution that school administrators are looking for when it comes to students at risk and assessing those who could be. It is the first solution of its kind where true collaboration around a student centers around the child and not just a piece of the child’s education journey, such as an IEP tracking system, or simple document management platform.
If we are to win the war in bringing back our students at risk back from the brink of failure, a much more holistic approach is needed with interventions and the effectiveness of strategies. It all starts with having the right information at the proper time. Do you have the all the information you need to assess whether or not you have good kids in your hallways that are really one the next students at risk?