Educators and social workers: Collaborating to help at risk high school students

Arthur Barry Fisher, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to analyze the collaboration between educators and social workers in a program that resided in an alternative high school and was dedicated to providing educational and social services to children at-risk for school failure. The program was designed to service 12 to 15 students in a self-contained classroom for one half of the school day. The educational effort of the program was supported by a full-time on-site social worker who provided an array of services to students and their families. These clinical activities were designed to meet the crisis needs of adolescents in trouble, and also sought to develop self-awareness, self-esteem, and appropriate behavior. This clinical effort was supported by a part-time counseling psychologist. Additionally, a part-time vocational specialist was employed to counsel the students on vocational and career concerns. This study combined in-depth interviews with teachers and social workers who collaborated in the education and treatment of Structured Therapy and Rehabilitation Training (START) program participants, interviews with the program participants, and collection of archival data on student outcome variables using the evaluative case study method. The data indicated that the program was functional and integrated into the high school program. Formal and informal mechanisms were in place for educational and social work personnel to collaborate over students' progress. The program was working as planned and when roles were appropriately assigned, personnel felt comfortable in their roles, and they indicated that they were able to provide the services needed by the students. In terms of its structure and functioning, the program could be described as a success. The program suffered from a high attrition rate during the sophomore year. Eight of 31 students, or 31% of those students enrolled dropped out then. The data suggested that for those students who remained in the program, grades were raised to passing levels, the number of units taken and passed increased, they were more punctual and their absenteeism decreased, their behavior in school improved, and their attitudes toward school and themselves improved. They felt cared for and protected by the START program.

Subject Area

School administration|Social work

Recommended Citation

Fisher, Arthur Barry, "Educators and social workers: Collaborating to help at risk high school students" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9631032.