Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 20, 2014

At-risk students identified

By DIANE VANCE | Nov 06, 2013

Fairfield Middle School guidance counselors and administrators are focusing on students at-risk and reviewing data every five weeks to evaluate current interventions and supports, FMS Principal Laura Atwood told the school board Oct. 21.

“We identified 242 students at-risk in September,” she said.

At-risk students include those who are not doing well academically, socially, emotionally and more.

“The definition of at-risk is largely determined by state reporting responsibilities,” Atwood said. “As a district, we are expected to identify students as they potentially fit into two categories, at-risk, and the more extreme level of potential drop out.”

For identification in both categories, school districts set up identifiers such as attendance, academic failure, medical conditions, family situations, emotional struggles and social issues.

“The categories are predetermined by the state, but districts have leeway to refine the categories and also to set thresholds as to what triggers an identification, such as how many absences and number of failures,” said Atwood.

“Not one piece of data can identify a student as at-risk or as a potential drop out,” she said. “Fairfield Community School District uses multiple data points, with thresholds set low enough so that professionals can respond before a situation seems hopeless for the student. Our goal is to be proactive, to assist students in finding comfort, confidence and academic success.

“Using our at-risk identifiers, we focused on students who had a total of five or more points, and identified 34 such students,” said Atwood. “After reviewing interventions that were or were not in place for these 34 students, only four did not have adequate supports. We’ll identify what level of need they’re at and provide supports.”

Some interventions and supports offered to middle school at-risk students include, but are not limited to:

• H2O, small group study hall.

• Reading blitz program.

• Math support.

• Check in and connect.

• Check in and out.

• Outside counseling.

• Regular school counselor check in.

• Individual Education Plan.

• Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that requires public schools to meet the needs of disabled individuals as adequately as the needs of non-disabled are met.

• Wednesday morning tutoring.

• At-risk coordinator contact.

• Mentors.

“We also looked at the rest of our 234 at-risk students with four points or fewer to see if anyone needed extra support or attention,” said Atwood.

Atwood told the school board 16 students require additional teaching to be more proficient; 19 students were identified that need to build more social skills, which will be provided through peer role models.

FMS will host six social lunches and has formed 12 small groups based on behavior needs.

The small groups will support students who may need additional teaching in the areas of being prepared, dependable and being respectful and showing integrity. Guidance counselors will lead the small groups and prepare lessons as well as provide peer role models, said Atwood.

The social lunches are to help students interact, find connections at school and build positive relationships.

Teachers and administrators will analyze a new set of data after six weeks to determine if this support and teaching is impacting the students.

The guidance/administrator team has set these goals for FMS at-risk students:

• 80 percent of FMS at-risk students will achieve 89 percent average daily attendance this school year.

• 90 percent of the at-risk students will have five or fewer behavior referrals at the end of the school year.

• 80 percent of at-risk students will pass all classes each quarter.

• 80 percent of at-risk students will participate in at least one school activity or have identified one adult connection.

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