ERIC Number: ED337327
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Warning: All Children at Risk! Early Identification of At-Risk Students in Rural and Urban Settings.
McIntosh, Dean K.; And Others
Third- and fifth-grade teachers in four South Carolina elementary schools identified certain students as potential high school dropouts, and indicated factors affecting their predictions for these students. Ethnographic interviews were conducted with the teachers and with 40 identified students and their parents. About 17% of sampled students were identified as potential dropouts, compared with the actual statewide school-leaving rate of 38%. The factors most frequently cited for individual children were student attitude and emotional state, ability and achievement, and home/environmental factors. The at-risk group as a whole displayed 16 tendencies, but none of these variables discriminated reliably between identified and non-identified children. Interview data suggest that identified children had not learned to "play the game," that is, had not cultivated appropriate teacher-pleasing behaviors. An examination of school practices produces an overall impression of fairly rigid procedures and lack of communication channels between teachers and students and between teachers and parents. Homework was mostly drill and rarely involved creativity or higher-order thinking skills. Instruction tended to be homogeneous with little attention to the learning needs of individual students. Teachers, parents, and students all conveyed a sense of powerlessness within the system. This paper urgently recommends that schools not attempt to label elementary school children as being at-risk. Rather than labeling children and attempting to provide remedial services, the schools should attempt to improve the learning environment for teachers and students alike, particularly with regard to empowerment. (SV)
Descriptors: Classroom Environment, Early Identification, Educational Diagnosis, Elementary Education, Elementary School Students, High Risk Students, Labeling (of Persons), Potential Dropouts, Self Fulfilling Prophecies, Student Behavior, Student Characteristics, Teacher Attitudes, Teacher Student Relationship
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, Columbia.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Empowerment; South Carolina
Note: Paper presented at the Rural Education Symposium of the American Council on Rural Special Education and the National Rural and Small Schools Consortium (Tucson, AZ, March 18-22, 1990).