Who is At Risk?

There are two main ways of assessing who is “at risk” — sociology, and performance.

The sociological approach says that children from low-income households are “at risk.” What may be dubbed the performance approach says that students who have, well, performed poorly are the ones at risk for further academic troubles.

Johnson county doesn’t do so well under the sociological/monetary approach. It’s wealthy. And of course legislators from JoCo want to get more money out of Topeka, so some have pushed for the performance-based approach. That’s what they got, in what is a tentative legislative reversal. Says the KC Star:

Friday morning, the committee reversed a decision Thursday to base extra ““at-risk” dollars on the number of kindergarten through 12th-grade students who score below proficient on state math or reading tests.

Authored by Rep. Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, the proficiency definition provided Johnson County a lot more money than the current definition: the number of low-income students who qualify for a free lunch.

The budgetary implications are significant: $8.5 million less would go to Wichita under the performance-based approach. That’s because Wichita is, relatively speaking, poor.

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