As you can see, the term “at-risk” is problematic because it is so broad that it describes a plethora of conditions and characteristics. But it must be pointed out that, except for LDs, these circumstances are not innate and can be changed. There is hope for us teachers trying to help such students even though the term itself might be almost meaningless due to its broad scope. Nonetheless, some people think that the term is a harmful label that will lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure once they are “saddled” with it from an early age.
Taken from http://edglossary.org/at-risk/ and http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/2513