About the EWDS
The Early Warning System (EWS) was originally developed by the National High School Center (NHSC) at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to calculate automatically the high-yield indicators related to dropout. With permission of and in collaboration with the NHSC, the Texas Comprehensive Center (TXCC) at SEDL adapted the EWS to produce a customized database version called the Early Warning Data System (EWDS). The EWDS consists not only of the database, but also several imbedded component systems: Working as a collaborative team; Creating individual, group, and schoolwide data reports; Designing successful interventions; and Verifying student success based on implementation and impact data.
The TXCC first designed the EWDS to be used by districts participating in the Texas Ninth Grade Transition and Intervention Program (TNGTI), a pilot program of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The program was intended to provide support for eighth-grade students who were transitioning to the ninth grade and who were at risk of low performance and/or failure. The EWDS is freely available and can be used for any additional applications by interested schools and districts.
The database tracks research-based ninth-grade indicators related to high school dropout, such as attendance and academics, and automatically flags students who are below the specified benchmarks leading to graduation. It provides leading indicators so that school staff can quickly review data and plan interventions as early as 20 to 30 days after the beginning of the school year. Additional data points are incorporated at each grading period and at the end of the year to enable intervention planning for summer or the beginning of the following year.
Responding to feedback received from EWDS users, the TXCC has modified the database so that behavior referrals may now be tracked as well. However, due to the diversity of behavior codes and procedures found in high schools across the state of Texas—and the United States—there are no research—defined thresholds for this indicator. In addition, most of these students are identified through the attendance and course-performance indicators.
A strong and unique component of the EWDS is its ability to track a student’s progress during the intervention period as well as for the rest of the year. This allows staff to recognize quickly when an intervention is not having the desired effect and to adjust it to ensure student success.
The customized database also provides both pre-defined and custom reports showing which students are below the defined benchmark for each of the indicators. The information provided in the reports is based on the school’s readily available data regarding student academic performance and attendance.
Sustained success using the EWDS is seldom accomplished in a single day. Users should also be provided with continuing support as they implement interventions using data, verify the implementation and impact of the actions, and adjust the interventions regularly as needed.
An important resource is the EWDS online help system. This resource may also be viewed by clicking the question mark in the EWDS as you are using it.
Is the EWDS Research-Based?
The EWDS is based on research conducted by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University on the identification of potential high school dropouts. The research identified several indicators that were correlated to high school dropout, including low grades in core classes, poor attendance, failure to be promoted to the next grade, and disengagement in the classroom. Validity of the indicators has been substantiated by more recent research as well.
Johnson, E., & Semmelroth, C. (2010). The predictive validity of the early warning system tool. NASSP Bulletin, 94(2), 120-134.
For an overview of research findings that determine how the EWDS database flags “at-risk” students, see the NHSC’s Early Warning Systems Guide and Approaches to Dropout Prevention: Heeding Early Warning Signs with Appropriate Interventions.