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The Extent and Consequences of Risk in U.S. Education


by Deborah Land & Nettie E. Legters — 2002

What factors place a child at risk of academic failure and dropping out of school? In this chapter, we argue that educators, researchers, and policymakers are developing a richer and more complex understanding of the conditions and experiences that lead to negative educational outcomes. In the first section, we describe how thinking about risk in education has begun to shift from identifying risk factors solely in terms of students’ individual and family characteristics to an acknowledgment that substandard teaching and learning environments allow far too many children to fail. In the second section, we examine the scope of risk through an examination of individual/family-level risk indicators. In the third section, we explore school-related risk factors to round out our assessment of risk. We conclude with a brief summary of the extent and consequences of risk of educational failure in the U.S. in which we emphasize the need to focus on the compound nature of risk, specifically interactions between individual/family-level and school-level risk factors.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol. 101, No. 2.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 104 Number 10, 2002, p. 1-28
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18634, Date Accessed: 7/23/2017 10:47:04 PM

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About the Author
  • Deborah Land
    Johns Hopkins University
    E-mail Author
    DEBORAH LAND is a Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Social Organization of Schools and Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University.
  • Nettie Legters
    Johns Hopkins University
    E-mail Author
    NETTIE LEGTERS is an Associate Research Scientist in the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University, where she is also Associate Director of the Talent Development High Schools program.
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