Supporting Our Highest Need Students

About the Author

Jay Martinez

At Education Forward DC, we are committed to serving our most vulnerable students. Over time, we have learned more about which students need greater levels of resources and support in order to succeed. In 2014, DC began using a new designation that more specifically measures student who are “at risk of academic failure” ­ and provides greater levels of resources for these students. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) defined “at-­risk” in this way:

  • Students who are homeless;
  • Students in the District’s foster care system;
  • Those that qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the
    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and
  • High school students that are one year older, or more, than the expected age for the grade in which the students are enrolled.

Recently, NewSchools Venture Fund took a look at what the numbers tell us when we examine academic performance as it relates to student need and found “a tight correlation between acute student need and academic proficiency results – that is, the more at­risk students in a school, the lower the average student achievement.”

The city has just begun using the at-­risk designation and we have a lot to learn about what it can tell us. However, we think it is an important tool that helps us better understand student needs and more importantly work with school leaders and city government to to create schools that support every student in our city, especially the most vulnerable. Learn more about our vision and strategy here.