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In Iowa, at-risk is defined in the Iowa Code and the Iowa Administrative Code. Since programming is a local decision, definitions and guidance are given so that school districts are able to decide locally what the specific indicators are that put students at risk and guidance for serving these students.


Iowa Code and Iowa Administrative Code define at-risk language in the following ways:

281--Iowa Administrative Code 12.2(256) – Definition of At-Risk
"At-risk student" means any identified student who needs additional support and who is not meeting or not expected to meet the established goals of the educational program (academic, personal/social, career/vocational). At-risk students include but are not limited to students in the following groups: homeless children and youth, dropouts, returning dropouts, and potential dropouts.

281--Iowa Administrative Code 12.5(13) – Provisions for at-risk students
Each school district shall include in its comprehensive school improvement plan the following provisions for meeting the needs of at-risk students:

  1. Valid and systematic procedures and criteria to identify at-risk students throughout the school district's school-age population.
  2. Determination of appropriate ongoing educational strategies for alternative options education programs as required in Iowa Code section 280.19A.
  3. Review and evaluation of the effectiveness of provisions for at-risk students. This subrule does not apply to accredited nonpublic schools.

Each school district using additional allowable growth for provisions for at-risk students shall incorporate educational program goals for at-risk students into its comprehensive school improvement plan. Provisions for at-risk students shall align with the student learning goals and content standards established by the school district or by school districts participating in a consortium. The comprehensive school improvement plan shall also include objectives, activities, cooperative arrangements with other service agencies and service groups, and strategies for parental involvement to meet the needs of at-risk children. The incorporation of these requirements into a school district's comprehensive school improvement plan shall serve as the annual application for additional allowable growth designated in Iowa Code section 257.38.


281--Iowa Administrative Code 97.3(257) – Supplementary weighting plan for at-risk students.
97.3(1) Uses of funds. Funding generated by the supplementary weighting plan for at-risk students shall be used to develop or maintain at-risk programs, which may include alternative school programs.
97.3(2) Calculation of funding. Funding for the supplementary weighting plan for at-risk students is calculated as follows:

  1. Adding a weighting for each resident student of one hundred fifty-six one-hundred-thousandths.
  2. Adding a weighting of forty-eight ten-thousandths for each resident student enrolled in grades one through six, as reported by the school district on the basic educational data survey for the base year, who is eligible for free and reduced price meals under the federal National School Lunch Act and the federal Child Nutrition Act of 1966, 42 U.S.C. Sections 1751-1785.

FY 2020 At Risk Supplementary Weighting

FY 2019 At Risk Supplementary Weighting

FY 2018 At Risk Supplementary Weighting



Identification of students in each district is highly dependent on student(s) needs. Each school district will be different and the process dynamic. It is important that each district identify individual students at risk of school failure and use caution not to identify groups or clusters of students or even schools with a large concentration of high risk students. Early Warning Systems are crucial for future success and each system should have two components. One is the identification process and the second is using the data for selection and implementation of research-based intervention programs.


Risk Factors of Potential Dropouts

Appropriate On-going Strategies


Also see: Alternative Education and Dropout Prevention

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on July 12, 2020 at 5:16am.