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Why Early Warning Systems Matter and Where They Are Going Next Robert Balfanz Everyone Graduates Center Johns Hopkins University March 11, 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Why Early Warning Systems Matter and Where They Are Going Next Robert Balfanz Everyone Graduates Center Johns Hopkins University March 11, 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why Early Warning Systems Matter and Where They Are Going Next Robert Balfanz Everyone Graduates Center Johns Hopkins University March 11, 2014

2 Our Nation Faces a Graduation Challenge There is little work for young adults without a high school degree And no work to support a family without some post- secondary schooling or training As a result entire communities are being cut off from participation in American society and a shot at the American Dream This weakens the Nation

3 Dropping Out of High School Means You Are Much More Likely To be out of the labor market as full time employed To be incarcerated To have health issues and at an earlier age To pass on these set of disadvantages to your children As a result, dropping out has high individual and community costs

4 This Presents our Schools and Communities with a Big Challenge Every student regardless of needs, prior levels of school success, and current motivations needs to graduate from high school prepared to succeed in post-secondary school and training

5 In Era When All Students Need to Graduate Prepared for College and Career The best teachers and the best curriculum are not enough Students also need to attend school regularly, focus in class, and complete their assignments Poverty complicates this and the challenges are significant Schools can and need to be organized to help enable students to attend, behave, and try

6 Early Warning Systems keep students on the path to high school graduation and improve school outcomes Signals when students are just beginning to fall off the path to high school graduation Helps get the right intervention to the right student at the right time Enables schools to maximize impact of critical resources-time and funding Shows which students need stronger adult relationships Enables adults to pool their knowledge, talents and time to change student behavior and solve problems

7 What Will the Next Generation of Early Warning Systems Look Like? Summary Findings from Early Adopters of Early Warning Systems Conference Held at Bush Institute Nov. 2013

8 Good News: Schools and Districts Across the Country are Adapting Early Warning Systems to Work in Their Community By building a response system matched to the scale and scope of their challenges In schools with 20 or fewer students with off-track indicators individual counselors, social workers, or graduation coaches have led the effort In schools with 20 and 50 students small dedicated teams of staff members - e.g. student support teams have been successful When more than 50 students are involved teacher teams will need to play a critical role In all cases investments in mission building, professional development, coaching and networking have been critical to success

9 Good News: Dropout Prevention and College and Career Readiness Can Be Propelled by a Unified System of Predictive Indicators and Tiered Evidence Based Interventions Consistent Finding that no matter how you look at it or at what grade - the ABC’s - Attendance, Behavior, and Course Performance - are predictive of student success Students who attend school regularly, behave/try/self- mange, and do well in their courses graduate from high school and succeed in college Students who do not, dropout or do not succeed in college

10 Good News: The ABC’s are Actionable Attendance, behavior, and course performance can be modified and improved through organized and informed actions at the school, district, and community level This provides a coherent message to schools and students-drive up good attendance, behavior and course performance, pay attention to and prevent/intervene when low attendance, problematic behavior, and poor course performance occur

11 Good News: Grades 5 to 14 Can be Viewed as an Ecosystem Early adolescence to early adulthood is a distinct phase of life To build pathways from poverty to adult success we need to get all students through this stretch Pre-k to 4 th grade “on track” metrics are important but they may or may not be the same as–early adolescence to early adulthood metrics–we do not know yet–except that attendance always matters

12 Good News: We Know the Key Inflection Points Students who are good at school by 9 th grade by and large succeed, those that struggle and do not earn promotion to 10 th grade by and large do not Most but not all students 9 th grade trajectories are set in the middle grades Chronic absenteeism in the early grades sets students up to fall off-track in the middle grades To pivot from high school to adult success many students need help navigating the grade 10 through the initial years of college space

13 Challenges: Behavior Domain is Complex We are just starting to identify the behavior signals that indicate students are on and off track to adult success Hence its an area both ripe for innovation and for making mistakes But there does seem to be value added in bringing in more expanded and closer to real time behavior data

14 Two Sixth Graders

15 Challenges: Indicators Can Identify Too Many Needy Kids in One Place Once a student has an off-track indicator reversing course will require either changing student behavior and/or solving a problem Both of these require an effective relationship between an adult and the student

16 Solution Need to get to place where early warning indicators are used to direct evidence based prevention activities and resource allocation at the school, district, and state level


18 Challenges: Need to Gain Broad Acceptance of the Validity of Indicators Solution – Need to convince more people that attendance and grades matter as much as test scores for student success

19 In sum, what we face is a giant engineering challenge of creating schools designed to enable all students to graduate prepared for college and career and within them getting the right support to the right students at the right time at the scale and intensity required.

20 The Good News is we are, as folks in this room are showing, good at engineering challenges

21 For more information Visit the Everyone Graduates Center website at E-mail Robert Balfanz at

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