Identifying At-Risk Students

Research shows that 9th grade is the make-or-break year for turning around students at risk of dropping out. In her Sunday morning session, “Graduation Pathways,” Paige Ponder from Chicago Public Schools presented the Emerging Early Warning System they use. She named four unique groups of students who emerge as at-risk students:

  1. Students who are overage at entry; they’ve struggled in grades K–8. Sixty percent are off track already, and only 27 percent graduate.
  2. Students with high absence rates by the end of fall semester. Eighty-one percent are off track, and only 19 percent graduate.
  3. Students with high rates of course failure at the end of fall semester. They are, by definition, off track, and only 34 percent graduate.
  4. Students with high rates of course failure at the end of spring semester. They are also off track for graduation and only 39 percent graduate.

What strategies are being used by your school systems to ensure students walk across that graduation stage?


  1. This is very disheartening to hear.
    It is noteworthy to mention that, given the right tools, every student has the potential and right to success in not only high school, but life.
    Motivational skills, time management skills, relationship skills, and self-actualization are only some of the factors that can change the “fate” you are prescribing to young teens.
    I have seen a complete turnaround in kids who were thought to be in danger of this failure and it has actually inspired me to teach these skills in a life coaching career that focuses on young adults.
    So don’t give up on the students! It is never to late for anybody to turn their life around.


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