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Pennsylvania Adopts Data-Based Intervention To Stem Dropout Rates

pennsylvania early warning system intervention

This year, 35 districts and charter schools in 23 Pennsylvania counties have adopted a new dropout prevention program aimed at middle school students at-risk for dropping out.

The Early Warning System and Interventions Catalog, as it is known, is free to schools in the state, and helps identify risk factors in students and matches them with school and community resources designed to help.

To identify at-risk students, the system gives schools access to a data dashboard, based on the Ed-Fi model, which collects information about the attendance, behavior, and grades of each student and looks for patterns. The system itself was based on research into underlying factors behind student dropouts conducted out of Johns Hopkins University’s Everyone Graduates Center.

After a student is identified as at-risk, an intervention catalog proposes resources that address a student’s individual needs, and schools can assign students to specific interventions. Administrators and staff can also track students progress and follow up later.

Part of the Opening Doors initiative, which seeks to boost the state's overall high school graduation rate, the program was supported by the Pennsylvania's First Lady, Susan Corbett, and takes its funding from almost $6 million in federal and private grants and donations. The 2014-15 school year is the first time the system is open to schools statewide. Last year, it was piloted by three districts.

Additional information about the system is available online.

About the Author

Stephen Noonoo is an education technology journalist based in Los Angeles. He is on Twitter @stephenoonoo.