Senior Project Advisor

Saunders, Kathleen (Anthropologist)

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2013


Drop-out rates, At-risk students, Secondary schools


The United States is facing catastrophic drop-out rates of one student every twenty-nine seconds, or one million per year (Governors Association in the United States, as cited in Smyth, Down, & Mclnemey, 2010, p. 38). These are the students who are categorized as “at-risk”: students who live in poverty, are homeless, are Black or Hispanic, do not speak English as their first language, or face other barriers, from mental disabilities to broken families, that might make them likely to drop out of school, commit crimes, and end up on the streets or prison. Despite so many of these youth dropping out of America’s schools, there is much that individual teachers can do to help these students succeed. This research is meant to be a resource for all current and future educators who teach these students, whether there is only one “at-risk” student in the class or thirty.

More specifically, this paper is a resource for teachers of secondary students. Study after study cites the importance of reaching at-risk children when they are young, when their brains are forming and when they are most impressionable. Because the correct interventions are clearly not being implemented for these young children in the capacity needed, the burden is shifted to the teachers of students in middle and high school. Much can be done to reach these students, and indeed it is the duty of teachers to be educated and to effectively teach these youth. As teachers, we must use all our power and resources to keep these students in school “because it may provide the only opportunity for stability in a life filled with constant change and uncertainty” (Yamaguchi, Strawser, & Higgins, 1997, p. 90). With the correct training and attitudes, educators can be the turning point for America’s “at-risk” youth.



Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

High school dropouts--Untied States; Minorities--Education (Secondary)--United States; Dropouts--United States--Prevention; People with social disabilities--Education (Secondary)--United States

Geographic Coverage

United States


student projects; term papers




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