This qualitative study examines the relationship of middle school at risk students to the regular classroom. I consider the ways in which regular classroom teachers identify a student to be at risk. I explore how that determination affects teacher interaction with specific students, and I evaluate whether those students' needs are being met in the regular classroom. Information was gathered through classroom observation, teacher interviews, and student interviews. The study indicates that regular classrooms have the potential to meet the needs of at risk students, but are failing to adequately do so because at risk students' academic needs and abilities are perceived to be significantly different from non-at risk students. As a result, regular classrooms do not include instructional strategies deliberately designed to· engage the at risk students. The students are further alienated from mainstream education through attempts by teachers and special programs to offer assistance only outside the regular classroom.
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