Washington, D.C. – Based on results from a randomized controlled trial, a new study found that the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System, an early warning system developed by American Institutes for Research (AIR), reduced the percentage of high school students who were chronically absent and failed courses, two strong signals that students are off-track for graduation. The study was recently released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences and was conducted by the Regional Education Laboratory Midwest at AIR.
The Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System is a systematic approach to identifying students at risk of not graduating on time, assigning them to interventions, and monitoring their progress. The goal is to get at-risk students back on track for on-time graduation.
“Chronic absence and course failures—two of the most significant red light warnings that a student is falling off course for graduation—both dropped significantly after just one year,” said Dr. Ann-Marie Faria, lead author of the report. “We now know that the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System is an evidence-based program for identifying and supporting at-risk students.”
To assess the impact of the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System, 73 high schools in three Midwest Region states were randomly assigned to either implement the program during the 2014/15 school year or to start the program the following school year. Over 35,000 ninth and tenth grade students participated in the study, one of the first to evaluate the effectiveness of an early warning system in schools. The study showed:
- The percentage of ninth and tenth graders who were chronically absent was lower in schools using the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System (10 percent) than the percentage in control schools (14 percent).
- The percentage of ninth and tenth graders who failed one or more courses was lower in the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System schools (21 percent) than the percentage in control schools (26 percent).
The Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System did not have a detectable impact on the percent of students who were at risk due to behavior (suspensions), grade point average, or number of credits earned. Schools participating in the program reported that it was challenging to fully implement, in part because they found it time-intensive.
“Even though most schools had limited implementation in the first year, they still achieved better results for students,” said Dr. Jessica Heppen, principal investigator of the study. “We’re excited that this study suggests that we’re on the right track to knocking down the barriers to graduation for some of the nation’s most at-risk students.”
Getting Students on Track for Graduation: Impacts of the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System After One Year can be viewed on the IES website.
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education and workforce productivity. For more information, visit www.air.org.