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Articles: At-Risk

 One child in five has had or will have a “seriously debilitating mental disorder,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Educators in Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools intend to remove the obstacles that prevent students who have severe social anxiety from attending school, a phenomenon known as “school refusal behavior.”

COMPASSION IN ACTION—At Johnston Elementary School in Buncombe County Schools, police officers spent time with students last summer after three shootings in the community. The school uses “compassionate response,” which in part means giving students specific duties to feel proud of themselves and valued by staff.

Educators across the country have boosted student performance by weaving social-emotional lessons—such as regulating emotion, accepting mistakes and coping with stress—into everyday instruction.

Pamela Davis Smith is the principal of Highland View Elementary, a Title I school in Bristol, Virginia.

In a perfect world, every child would have access to food, shelter and clothing. They would have loving, attentive parents. They would arrive at school eager, focused and ready to learn. Unfortunately, our pre-K through 5 school, like a growing number of U.S. public schools, does not reside in that world.

Superintendent Michael Kuzniewski has increased graduation, testing and proficiency rates.

For decades, the J. Sterling Morton High School District in the Chicago suburbs was in bad shape. In 2008, when Michael Kuzniewski became superintendent, he vowed to change all that, with help from a new school board.

Young refugees who have fled foreign war zones, religious violence and dire poverty represent some of the country’s most “at-risk” students. In one New York district, for instance, refugee students who recently heard alarms during a fire drill worried the school was being bombed.

In the 2013-14 school year, there were more than 1.3 million homeless students, a 7 percent increase from the previous year and more than double the number in 2006-07. While that number is troubling, researchers believe it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

One in four California sixth-graders has never seen a dentist. A student at Harmon Johnson Elementary School in Sacramento, above, gets a cleaning. A University of the Pacific study helped establish on-site dental care to high-needs schools.

A quarter of California students have never seen a dentist by the time they complete fifth grade, according to a recently completed six-year study by the University of the Pacific.

Paul Glassman, the director of Pacific Center for Special Care, a program of the university’s dentistry, established dental care in various high-needs schools in 2010. The project has already inspired legislation to help fund more dental services.

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires districts to grant homeless students credits for work done in other school systems.

The number of homeless students increased in the 2016-17 school year to about 1.3 million—doubling since 2006-07. Districts and states that have done the best job graduating homeless students have now seen some of their practices enshrined in federal law as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

DeRay Mckesson is the interim chief human capital officer for Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland.

DeRay Mckesson is the interim chief human capital officer for Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland, managing personnel, staffing, benefits and other related issues. The civil rights activist and former Baltimore mayoral candidate returns to the human capital office, where for 2 1/2 years he oversaw key reforms as a strategist and special assistant.

He now manages 56 employees and a $4 million budget. Mckesson also served in Minneapolis Public Schools until he resigned two years ago to protest the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Equity in K12 education doesn’t mean the same thing as equality. In fact, achieving true equity often requires providing lower-income schools and students with more resources than are given others in the same district, says Joel Boyd, superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools in New Mexico.

Learning to use the mind: New Haven Superintendent Garth Harries enjoys inspiring students, interacting with them, and giving them knowledge outside the classroom.

Within a few months of becoming superintendent of New Haven Public Schools a couple of years ago, Garth Harries had already attended too many teenagers’ funerals. After Harries left these grim ceremonies—and in other occasions when students were shot but survived—his office went back over the victims’ academic records for signs of trouble.

Chronically absent students are more likely to struggle academically and less likely to graduate. (Click to enlarge graphic)

More than 6 million students—representing 13 percent of the K12 population—missed at least 15 days of school in 2013-14. These chronically absent students were more likely to struggle academically and less likely to graduate.

Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez's initial spending plan was cut by $3.2 million by the school board.

Beth Schiavino-Narvaez has led Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut for two years. But it’s been two decades since a landmark state court case ruled the district had violated the U.S. Constitution by isolating children based on race and socioeconomics. And despite new budget woes, Schiavino-Narvaez continues to fight for better schools.

Meria Carstarphen came to lead Atlanta’s troubled school system in 2014 after 20 years of experience in education in districts in Texas, Minnesota and Washington, D.C.

Meria Carstarphen is a team player—literally. She has played football in the hot summer sun alongside varsity players at Atlanta Public Schools. The district superintendent also gives her personal cell phone number to staff and students alike. They can text her or call her—any time. In addition, they follow each other on Twitter.

In her new book, Pamela Lewis underscores the importance of filling classrooms with teacher role models who look like their students of color.

When it comes to racism in our public schools, many people pretend it doesn’t exist, says Pamela Lewis. In her new book, Teaching While Black, Lewis says a misplaced focus on test scores hides the true causes of underperforming inner-city schools: poverty and race.