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Special Article

Reducing At-Risk Students with Kagan

Athenian Academy of Technology and the Arts

To cite this article: Athenian Academy of Technology and the Arts, Reducing At-Risk Students with Kagan. Kagan Online Magazine, Issue #64. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Publishing. www.KaganOnline.com

Athenian Academy of Technology and the Arts is a K–8 tuition-free public charter school in New Port Richey, Florida. For the 2015–2016 school year, Athenian earned a “D” grade from the state. Since then, Athenian has made Kagan Cooperative Learning and student engagement a major focus and has made a dramatic turnaround. Athenian is presently an “A” rated school and has become a nationally-recognized Kagan Model School.

Reducing At-Risk Factors

Our school collects data on four key factors to gauge how “at-risk” our students are from dropping out of high school:
1. Attendance
2. OSS (Out-of-School Suspension)
3. English/Language Arts and Math Course Failures
4. Scoring at Level 1 on the State Test (“Inadequate”)

Since implementing Kagan Cooperative Learning, the percentage of students exhibiting these early warning indicators has dropped significantly. The graph below shows a dramatic reduction in all four of these risk factors.

If a student has two of these flags, the student is considered “at-risk” of dropping out of high school. As depicted in the last two “at-risk” bars in the graph below, our at-risk population reduced from 28% to just 6%. This is a major reduction from approximately one in three students considered at-risk to just six students out of 100.

2015 and 2021 At-Risk Data

Here is a summary of the data:

2015-2016 2020-2021
358 365
2% increase
Absences (18 or More)
2016 2021
118 Students 44 Students
63% reduction
Out-of-School Suspensions (OSS)
2016 2021
45 Students 13 Students
71% reduction
ELA/Math Course Failures
2016 2021
112 Students 21 Students
81% reduction
Level 1 ELA/Math State Test
2016 2021
101 Students 17 Students
83% reduction
At-Risk Students
(2 or more categories above)
2016 2021
76 Students 23 Students
70% reduction

While we are very pleased with these results, we do want to be transparent that our attendance data did take a hit during the year we just completed. 20% of our students missed 18 days or more of school during the 2021–2022 school year, with Covid being a bulk of that. While we aren't required to do a school improvement plan, this is an area of focus for us as we compile our data, complete a needs assessment, and set goals for the year.

Our number one initiative each year continues to be student engagement via Kagan Cooperative Learning. The data trends continue to support that this initiative is the driving force behind our school improvement, with the school continuing to accelerate student learning outcomes, subgroup data improving each year, the achievement gap closing (still much work to do here), and our school maintaining an "A" grade. We can proudly say that we were the only Title I elementary or middle school in all Pasco County Schools to earn an "A."

In addition, we continue to see huge improvements in our students' interpersonal skills, which we believe is evident in the early warning indicator data presented: OSS in decline, student learning gains in class (i.e. fewer students failing classes and/or the state test), improvement in attendance, and fewer bullying reports. We believe the Positive Interdependence piece of Kagan’s PIES principles has been tremendous in our students wanting to see their friends succeed—what a difference it has made.

Academic Achievement Improvements

In addition to reducing our “at-risk” population, Athenian has continued to improve overall academic achievement. Below are some of the highlights from 2021–2022 state testing.

• 100% of our students passed the Civics EOC, the highest in Pasco and the only 100% on this EOC.
• 85% of our students passed the 8th grade Science test, the highest in Pasco.
• 85% of our students passed the 8th grade ELA test, the 2nd highest in Pasco.
• 85% of our students passed the 8th grade Math test, the 4th highest in Pasco.
• 90% of our students passed the 6th grade Math test, the 2nd highest in Pasco.
• 86% of our students passed the 6th grade ELA test, the 2nd highest in Pasco.
• 85% of our students passed the 3rd grade ELA test, the 3rd highest in Pasco.
• 84% of our students passed the 3rd grade Math test, the 4th highest in Pasco.
• 69% of our students passed the 4th grade ELA test.
• 67% of our students passed the 4th grade Math test.
• 64% of our students passed the 5th grade Math test.
• 61% of our students passed the 7th grade Math test.

Thank you, Kagan, for all of your continued support!