This research was conducted on the subject of the early education of the academically at-risk student. The literature revealed the three major factors in placing these students at-risk are language and cultural barriers, low socio/economic status and developmental differences. One possible way to give all students a chance to succeed despite factors that might cause them to learn at various rates is to place them in a blended classroom of more than one grade level during their early education. The students that were observed were in a kindergarten/first grade blended class.
The teacher was an experienced educator who provided a rich environment for learning. Through the use of concrete manipulatives, lessons for individual learning styles, the choice of center activities, authentic student-centered instruction and the building of a strong classroom community she provided many opportunities for academic success at the students' own developmental level. In addition she has discovered that teaching second language students to read in Spanish initially, then transitioning to English is more effective than only developing their Spanish language proficiency and teaching them to read in English first.
Schools that have English as a Second Language programs teaching students to read in their first language, that provide for the students' basic needs for food, shelter and safety during school hours, and that have educators who offer students developmentally appropriate academic material may help all students realize their academic potential. These schools may be the best learning environment for the academically at-risk student.
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