The meanings of "at-risk": Reform rhetoric and policy responses in U.S. education.
AuthorPlacier, Peggy Lou.
KeywordsDropout behavior, Prediction of.
Education and state -- United States.
Education and state -- Arizona.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractDescription of students as at-risk became a trend in educational policy and programming in the late 1980s. The term at risk was originally part of the specialized discourse of medicine and psychology, and related subfields of education such as special education and educational psychology. Due to the influence of national reform reports, the term at risk became more common in the discourse of policymakers and practitioners. It was used as a descriptor of students, often low-income and/or minority students, likely to fail or drop out of school. This study employed methods from sociolinguistics, discourse analysis and policy analysis to trace the uses and meanings of at risk through national reports, state education policies in Arizona, and district policies in a medium-sized Arizona school district with both rural and suburban schools. Analysis of reports and recorded interviews with state policymakers, district administrators, principals, and teachers identified differences in the meanings of at risk at different levels of the educational system. Groups at each level had particular interests in students, as reflected in their definitions of the problems of at-risk students and their policy recommendations. The most common consequences for students of being labelled at-risk were to be removed from the mainstream for special treatment, despite arguments of some researchers and theorists that educators need to rethink such approaches.
Degree ProgramEducational Foundations and Administration