Early indicator and response systems, sometimes referred to as early warning systems, use academic, behavior and attendance information to identify individual students at high risk of dropping out of school. The effectiveness of an early indicator and response system lies in the ability of the school or district to use the data collected to provide supports to the students who exhibit high risk factors for dropping out.
Research suggests that students who eventually drop out of high school exhibit strong predictive indicators of dropping out, such as infrequent attendance, behavior infractions, and course failure. These indicators may be used to predict high school graduation as early as the start of middle school.
Early indicator and response systems may be used to identify individual students at risk of dropping out and to identify common risk factors in particular schools. Using the information from these systems, educators can provide students at risk of dropping out with the extra supports they need to succeed in school.
This tool can assist staff at the school, district, and state level to target assistance to students who are at risk of not graduating from high school in four years. The MEIRS is intended to assist with providing focused supports and interventions for these students and ultimately increase graduation rates.
Schools and districts can take the information from data to action by offering and implementing effective supports for students. Once students are identified as being at risk of dropping out, teachers, counselors, and community partners can intervene with targeted student engagement and dropout prevention strategies.
In some situations, students may require one-on-one counseling to address their problems. Interventions also could be targeted at the group level. For example, if several students exhibit risk factors related to low academic performance in a particular content area, catch-up or credit recovery courses could be offered. Interventions also may be provided at a school- or communitywide level, to create conditions that help students successfully complete school prepared for postsecondary options and career opportunities.
Balfanz, R., Bridgeland, J. M., Moore, L. A., & Fox. J. H. (2010). Building a grad nation: Progress and challenge in ending the high school dropout epidemic. Baltimore, MD: Everyone Graduates Center; Washington, DC: America’s Promise Alliance.
Dynarski, M., Clarke, L., Cobb, B., Finn, J., Rumberger, R., & Smith, J. (2008). Dropout prevention (NCEE 2008–4025). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.
Jerald, C. D. (2006). Identifying potential dropouts: Key lessons for building an early warning data system. Washington, DC: Achieve.
Princiotta, D., & Reyna, R. (2009). Achieving graduation for all: A governor’s guide to dropout prevention and recovery. Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices.