Identifying academically at-risk students within a suburban Northern California public high school professional learning community
Accountability and ownership of learning is no longer the educational priority of many schools; instead, academic success is reduced to an academic performance index (API) score. This focus on testing and producing excellent test results have hindered educators and forced them to abandon teaching in favor of managing the growing business of education (Huffman, & Jacobson, 2003). This case study explored the relationship of social and behavioral factors that may have caused students to be academically at-risk in a suburban Northern California high school professional learning community. The purpose of this qualitative method with a case study research design was to explore the possible causes of academic failure when students have less than average grade attainment in subject content areas and achieve a score of proficient or advanced on Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) assessment test. Twenty-three survey and nine focus group interview participant responses were analyzed with quantitative analysis using Excel and qualitative analysis software QSR NVivo 9 that revealed five themes. The use of a qualitative method with a case study research design methodology provided an opportunity for participants to explain view points as related to the research topic in their own voices. Critical factors were identified in the study. Research findings indicated that the best ways to support administrators, educators, and counselors to assist academically at-risk students included professional collaboration, bringing awareness to students of their academic responsibility and accountability, increased counseling and school funding, as well as the development of school site specific intervention programs.
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