An Early Warning System to Prevent High School Dropouts

Nearly one-third of students attending public high schools fail to graduate. While
discouraging, this outcome is not inevitable. Research suggests that ninth grade is a crucial year for determining whether students will complete high school. High absenteeism, course failures, a low grade point average, and disengagement in the classroom, including behavioral problems, can be early indications that a student is not on track to graduate. It is therefore crucial that educators support students in the transition from middle school to high school.

To help educators identify these early signs, SEDL’s Texas Comprehensive Center collaborated with the National High School Center (NHSC), to customize NHSC's Early Warning System (EWS) Tool as a desktop database application for Texas schools. This tool is available to school and district leaders at no cost. Using a school’s readily available data on student academic performance, attendance, and (at the request of the Texas Education Agency) behavior, the EWS Tool calculates students’ on-track status and flags students who are at risk of dropping out. Schools can then provide appropriate dropout prevention strategies, thereby helping students succeed in and ultimately complete high school. The resource is based on research conducted by the Consortium on Chicago School Research and Johns Hopkins University on the identification of potential high school dropouts through early warning systems.

Additional information about the EWS Tool is available on the Texas Comprehensive Center Web site.