A “Early Warning” System for Dropouts

By Sean Cavanagh — May 19, 2009 1 min read
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The American Institutes for Research has created an online program in an effort to help schools identify students at risk of dropping out of school, before they’re already halfway out the door. It’s called the “Early Warning System Tool,” and it was created by the National High School Center within the AIR.

Want to take this vehicle for a test drive? Go to the above link and scroll down to the tool, which you’ll see listed as an Excel file. Fill in information giving the risk factors of individual students—which include days of school missed per quarter, low GPA, and credits earned (or not earned). The system spits out an final report on a student’s risk level, and whether he or she is “off-track.” I put two imaginary students through the process, and was told that one of them had stayed on-track, while the other veered off.

School officials are exploring strategies for flagging high school students who may be at risk of dropping out. See my colleague Catherine Gewertz’s story on Chicago’s efforts in this area, from earlier this year. Here’s an Eduwonkette item from last year on “early warning” efforts to prevent dropouts.

Could a relatively straightforward tool like the “early warning” system help schools keep a closer eye on students who are sliding away? Or is there a more practical or systematic way of doing this?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.