Identifying Early Warning Indicators in Three Ohio School Districts

David Stuit, Basic Policy Research
Mindee O’Cummings
Heather Norbury

A growing number of school districts are using early warning systems in their strategy for improving rates of student on-time graduation. Such systems use academic and behavioral indicators from student-level data to identify students who are at risk of not graduating high school on time. Once students are identified, the school district can provide them with supplemental supports (for example, supplemental instruction or counseling) to get them back on track to graduate on time.

In partnership with the Midwest Dropout Prevention Research Alliance the study team used student-level data and a five-step process to identify the most accurate indicators of students’ failure to graduate from high school on time. Student-level data came from attendance records, transcripts, and discipline records of grade 8 and 9 students in three Ohio school districts.

The study found that the most accurate early warning indicators of students being off track for graduating on time vary by school district and grade level. Overall, the most accurate indicators in both grades were based on coursework (grade point average and number of credits earned). On average, indicators were more accurate in grade 9 than in grade 8. Other districts may be able to use the methods described in this report to identify early warning indicators for their grade 8 and 9 students.

Jessica Heppen
President and CEO