Early Warning Systems in Education

States, districts, and schools use research-based indicators to identify students at risk of failing to meet key educational milestones such as reading at grade level, on-time graduation, and college readiness and college persistence. By identifying students early, educators can target interventions and supports to help students to achieve readiness and success. 

Our Work in Early Warning Systems

AIR’s early warning system (EWS) projects connect to research, practice, and partnerships. AIR has been involved in the following EWS projects:

  • Research. Through the Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest, AIR conducted a randomized controlled trial on our research-based early warning intervention and monitoring system (EWIMS) implementation process (see related infographic). AIR conducted an external evaluation of an early warning system project in middle schools in Pennsylvania.  
  • Practice. AIR provides technical assistance to many states, schools and districts in implementing early warning systems. For example, through the Great Lakes Comprehensive Center, AIR staff customized early warning intervention and monitoring system resources for the state of Michigan, including an implementation guide and supporting videos.
  • Partnerships. AIR is partnering with BrightBytes, an education technology firm to inform BrightBytes' early warning system tools, such as the Early Insights Suite. Through this work AIR staff members help inform the predictive models for determining students’ risk predictions for key educational milestones such as high school graduation and postsecondary readiness. In addition, AIR staff work with BrightBytes clients to make data-informed decisions to support students.


From the early stages of planning through evaluating results, AIR works with education leaders to customize and refine early warning systems based on the best available research and evidence. See how we help schools, districts, and states develop, implement, and evaluate effective early warning systems.

Synthesize Research

Image of icon showing interlocking circlesBy synthesizing the latest research on early warning indicators and systems, AIR experts put research into useable formats that can be easily turned into action at the state, district, and school levels.

Validate Indicators

Image of icon showing a checked boxStarting with indicators drawn from the literature, AIR experts perform appropriate statistical analysis using state-, district-, or school-level data to identify the indicators that accurately predict which students are on track.

Customize Tools and Supports

Image of icon showing a set of keysAIR translates research and evidence-based practices into ready-to-use, effective models to identify students early and support them with appropriate interventions to achieve key educational milestones.

Launch and Implement

Image of icon showing mouse arrow clicking a buttonAIR experts help clients use a seven-step, research-based continuous improvement process that enables educators to keep a close eye on at-risk students and to intervene early—and often—to improve student outcomes.

Assess and Improve

Image of icon showing crossed pencilsA successful early warning system requires a continuous improvement process, improving practices through review and refinement of practice. Through analysis of process, practice, and data, AIR clients receive recommendations to take action that improve student outcomes.