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3. Early warning systems use data to identify students at risk of dropping out and provide more effective interventions.

Many states and districts are using data to help identify students early in high school or even middle school who are at risk of not graduating on time. These early warning systems commonly involve three dropout indicators:

  • Attendance: Chronic absenteeism can be a sign of learning and attention issues or of other issues that are distracting students or making them not want to go to school.
  • Behavior incidents: Students who get suspended even once in sixth grade are less likely to graduate on time.28
  • Coursework: Low grades could be a sign of unidentified or inadequately supported learning and attention issues, disengagement with school or a combination of these.

A division of USED recently issued a practitioner’s guide on implementing early warning systems. The guide includes details, noted in the table below, on how to use the response to intervention^ (RTI) framework to help design and assess interventions to reduce the number of students who drop out.29

Using Early Warning Systems and RTI to Keep Students on the Path to Graduation