An analysis of the student assistance program for at-risk students at Madison Junior High School, Dixon, Illinois, and suggestions for curriculum improvement
Koch, Jennifer R.
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The major purpose of this study was to answer the following question: How can the present Student Assistance Program and curriculum for at-risk students at Madison Junior High School, Dixon, Illinois, be improved? In order to gain a better understanding of at-risk youth and the need for an improved student assistance program, four sub-questions were addressed: (a) What are the characteristics of an at-risk student?; (b) What factors give rise to these characteristics?; (c) What are some successful strategies and interventions for helping at-risk students improve school performance?; and (d) What successful strategies and interventions for improving school performance of at-risk students have been implemented in schools similar to Madison Junior High School, Dixon, Illinois? A review of the literature identified the characteristics and the factors related to students being at risk, as well as some successful strategies for helping youth do better in school. Interviews with selected staff members at two schools similar to Madison Junior High were conducted. The same set of interview questions concerning identification, intervention, strategies and programs for at-risk youth was asked at both schools. In addition, a questionnaire was given to teachers at Madison Junior High School to confirm or reject the researcher’s belief that there is a need for improvement at Madison and to determine what the faculty feels can and should be done to assist students having difficulty in school. The responses at the two schools were analyzed and combined with data collected in the review of the literature to provide the basis for the suggestions for curriculum improvement. The study showed a need for a more formal and improved Student Assistance Program at Madison Junior High School, which provides an identification or referral process, peer tutoring, mentoring, study skills, and after-school programs. Individual and small-group counseling must be readily available as well. Staff development training should include teaching strategies such as teaching to different learning styles, cooperative learning, team teaching, and information on adolescent development. Parents should be enlisted to support their children’s learning and play meaningful roles in school governance.