Early Warning System Helps Bethel Students Stay 'On Track for Success'


November 12, 2014


Welcome to the Oregon Leadership Network's monthly blog series. Topics relate to building the capacity of education leaders to sustain research-based equitable practices across Oregon’s P-20 education system. Learn more about the Oregon Leadership Network.

Students, families, and educators from Bethel School District in Eugene, Oregon are using data to help keep kids on track for graduation and college and career readiness. To serve students equitably, so that each student may reach success, we need to understand exactly what each individual student needs to succeed, and then strive to work together to provide the necessary instruction and supports that are unique to them as learners.

Through a review of the research and with the support of Education Northwest, Bethel has keyed in on specific indicators that lead to a college-ready diploma.

We call the indicators the ABC & Es of success:

A for Attendance: Students who attend school regularly have a better chance of graduating on time
B for Behavior: Students who regularly demonstrate strong self-regulation skills in the classroom spend more time in class learning
C for Course Performance: Students who experience success in academic classes are better prepared for college and career
E for Essential Skills: In Oregon, students must demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing, and mathematics to earn a high school diploma

We collect student data to create an “On-Track for Success” index score for each student. We share the score, along with individual ABC & E data points, with students, parents, teachers, and administrators. The information is used to set goals, determine interventions, and provide support.

Teachers and administrators have access to individual data for students they serve as well as summary data for their classes and school.

Families review individual data with teachers at conferences and receive an On-Track for Success report for their child. These start in elementary school and continue through high school.

It’s important for teachers to review the report with parents because it has different information than the traditional report cards. We help families understand the indicators and the importance of helping children early. Every child has different needs, so the sooner we can determine those needs and introduce supports, the better.

Sending a report home with a third grade student that indicates the child is not on track to graduate from high school could be very discouraging to a family. This information needs to be shared thoughtfully and coupled with a set of goals and an intervention plan. Our teachers share information about interventions that are being implemented at school and identify strategies the family can use at home to help their child succeed.

We emphasize with families that everyone struggles from time to time. Bethel believes schools and families can work together to help students succeed when they are striving to learn challenging skills and concepts. We encourage determination and grit among our students, along with the development of courage and resolve when learning new information. Michael Jordan’s formula for success is a model we’ve embraced: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 3,000 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And, that is why I succeed!”

In this video, you can see students setting goals and sharing what being on-track means to them.

Bethel On-Track Goal Setting from Pat McGillivray on Vimeo.

Our goal is to work together so that each student succeeds. Rather than provide the same experience for each student, we want to individualize the interventions and supports. This is an equitable – instead of an equal – approach to education.

Early learning begets later learning, and success begets later success. The later in life we try to attempt to repair early deficits, the costlier remediation becomes.
—James Heckman, Economist and Nobel Laureate, 2000

In the end, an Early Warning System is not merely about measuring student achievement, it is also about:

  • Aligning to your District’s vision for student success
  • Showing that you will do whatever it takes to help students succeed
  • Providing focused, efficient, and targeted identification of student-needs and evidence-based interventions
  • Communicating early, often, and clearly with families and students about our shared goal of graduation preparedness, and
  • Forming partnerships…schools, students, and parents all focusing on the same goal

If you’d like to learn more about Bethel’s On-Track for Success Early Warning System, you can contact me by email.