Steps for Implementing an Early Warning System


July 16, 2013


Principal’s Research Review cover
Vol. 8, Issue 1; January 2013

“Much like emergency systems that sound a warning of natural disasters, such as hurricanes or tsunamis, educational EWS [early warning systems] signal school staff that action is needed to mitigate undesirable outcomes,” according to Education Northwest’s Sarah Frazelle and Rhonda Barton, authors of the July 2013 Principal’s Research Review. Published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the brief explores how school and district teams can best adopt an approach that’s used nationwide to “maximize dropout prevention initiatives by catching students at the onset of their struggles and providing them with the most appropriate interventions.”

Frazelle and Barton distill research on the four basic steps for implementing an effective EWS: establish a dedicated team, select and report accurate indicators, connect indicators and interventions, and evaluate the system.

The brief suggests key student data to track and solutions to common barriers, while offering links to easy-to-use templates and references for further study. It also looks at how EWS teams can connect to pre-existing intervention programs in their districts, including a Response to Intervention framework. The authors conclude that careful consideration by districts of “EWS team members’ roles, the data they collect and analyze, and the alignment of indicators and interventions are all important factors in helping keep their students on track to graduate.”

Other issues of the Principal’s Research Review written by Education Northwest staff include: