Early Warning Systems

According to the National High School Center at the American Institutes of Research, “…Early Warning Systems (EWS) use readily available school data to identify students who are at risk of dropping out, allowing educators to intervene early” (n.d., p. 1). EWS can be used as a student retention tool and also as a preventative measure.
EWS enables teams to use available school date to identify students who are at risk of not graduating from or dropping out of school to get them back on track for graduation. Students are identified based on academic and engagement data, such as absenteeism, course failure, grade point average (GPA), credits and discipline referrals, etc. Teams can use EWSs to identify students who are at risk, implement preventative measures to support students and to examine school-level trends to identify and address systemic issues. EWS can also be used by state and district levels to examine school-level trends to identify and address systemic issues related to student engagement.

Related Training Available

Project 10 - Using School-level Data to Increase Graduation Success of Students with Disabilities: An Early Warning System (EWS)
Details how schools and districts can use early warning system (EWS) data to promote timely graduation and post-school success. This training will include information on how to access and utilize data to impact graduation rates at the school level and interventions to help students graduate. In addition, effective practices implemented in other districts across the state will be shared. (2-3 hours)

Project 10 - Using Data to Increase Graduation Success: An Early Warning System (EWS) - Online Course
This no-cost, self-paced course provides instruction for district and school staff on the Early Warning System (EWS) developed by Project 10: Transition Education Network that uses data to increase the likelihood of the on-time graduation of high school students. Information on how to access and utilize data to determine which students require interventions to stay on track is included. Effective practices implemented in Florida districts are also shared. To participate in the course, go to http://pdportal.florida-ese.org.



Project 10 Topical Brief: Attendance (2016) (pdf)

Project 10 Topical Brief: Early Warning Systems (2014) (pdf)


Early Warning Systems in Education
American Institutes for Research (AIR) offers a complete set of services including the design and implementation of early warning systems to help states, districts and schools identify students who are at-risk of missing key educational milestones and create the conditions for students to succeed.

Early Warning Systems: Designing Effective Interventions to Improve College and Career Readiness (pdf)
This brochure highlights American Institutes for Research (AIR) efforts of using EWS data as actionable steps in three stages: research, design and implementation and ongoing support.

National High School Center, Early Warning Systems
This website provides information on the implementation of EWS including downloadable tools specific to middle and high schools. Using readily available student data, this Microsoft Excel-based program identifies early warning signs of students who may be at risk of dropping out of high school. In addition to the tool, implementation and technical manuals, as well as other resources, are provided.

Early Warning System (EWS) High School Tool

Early Warning System (EWS) Middle Grades Tool

National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) Transition Gradebook
The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) developed the Transition Gradebook as a school-level tool for recording individual students’ transition-related activities, including the required pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS), and various risk and protective factors associated with dropout, graduation and positive postschool outcomes.

On Track for Success: The Use of Early Warning Indicator and Intervention Systems to Build a Grad Nation (pdf)
This three-part manual details the purpose, design, and potential of EWS as well as lessons from the field and next steps.

A Planned Approach to Increase Graduation Rates: The Integration of a Dropout Early Warning System Into a Program Planning Process (2009) (pdf)
This two-page report from the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network breaks the EWS into a multi-phased systemic approach, with tasks broken into four phases of implementation.


Early Warning Systems in Education at the American Institutes for Research. (n.d.). Early warning systems. Retrieved from http://www.earlywarningsystems.org/ resources/early-warning-system-high-school-tool/.

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