A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

September, 2018
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Banner with title: Using the Early Warning Indicator System to Improve Outcomes for Students
EWIS News from DESE's Office for College, Career and Technical Education
We were inspired and excited to have educators from across the state join us for the recent EWIS Workshop. Elementary school leaders, college/career center specialists, guidance counselors and superintendents ... we rolled up our sleeves and pulled up EWIS reports to see students in a new light. In case you missed it - or hoped to join more than one breakout group - read on for a few highlights. We hope you will find this useful, and as always, thank you for all that you do.

-DESE's EWIS Team (Jen, Kate and Nyal)

Sign up for the EWIS Data Use webinar series using this link.

Choose any that are right for you: get comfortable with using EWIS reports, explore new tools for monitoring students' risk and discuss strategies for adjusting student supports throughout the school year.

Are you supporting school leaders who are new to using EWIS? One district data leader makes her principals an EWIS packet with a few essentials. The packet helps them prioritize when understanding the data and developing student supports. An EWIS packet might include: 
Do you have an EWIS story? Send an example of how you and your team have used EWIS. Your story may inspire others to use EWIS in improving outcomes for students. 


Track Students' Risk this Year with ABCs
EWIS tells us who is at risk at the beginning of the year. But students’ risk may change during the school year, and an updated view is helpful when assigning and adjusting student-centered supports over the school year. The ABC's — attendance, behavior & course performance — are particularly powerful indicators of students' academic risk. Examining these at regular intervals (two, three or four times a year) and comparing them to thresholds allow educators to identify students if they begin to go off track. Catching changes in student risk right away and assigning programmatic supports may bring students back on track quickly. 

There are many ways to do this, and tools or strategies can be simple or complex: use attendance only, or all three; do this within a student information system or in a spreadsheet, and individually or in collaboration with a team. The 'best' strategy is one that works for the user and impacts students. The Department has developed several resources to assist educators in monitoring student risk and gathered these on the new EWIS Monitoring website.

One new resource is the EWIS Monitoring Tool. With this, educators can combine students’ EWIS risk levels with data from other sources and assign students to interventions at the beginning of the year. Then throughout the year, educators can incorporate students' updated attendance, behavior and course performance for review alongside EWIS risk, and periodically adjust student supports. This is a complement to EWIS reports in Edwin, which snapshot students’ risk at the beginning of the school year.

To learn more about monitoring students' risk, join the EWIS webinars where we will cover monitoring students' risk or contact
Explore Underlying Causes of Students' Risk
EWIS tells us who is at risk at the beginning of the year, but it does not tell us why. Combining data from the EWIS reports with local data and context, educators can begin to understand underlying causes behind students' risk. This is Step 3 of the Early Warning Implementation Cycle

Root causes are statements that describe the deepest underlying cause or causes of a performance challenge. They are the causes that, if dissolved, would result in elimination or substantial reduction of a performance challenge. Root causes describe why the performance challenges exist, and are the things that most need to change and can change. Root causes are not student attributes (such as poverty level or student motivation), but rather relate to adult behavior and are within the school or district’s control. Root causes become the focus of improvement strategies. (1)

For more on this step, see Step 3 in the Early Warning Implementation Cycle tutorial or the Early Warning Implementation Guide or email for resources.

1. Adapted from Unified Improvement Planning.
Understand and Improve Students' Readiness for College
Nationwide, nearly all jobs created since 2010 have gone to workers with at least some college education, while those with a high school diploma or less are being left behind (2), illustrating that postsecondary choices are as important as completing high school. Yet there are deep gaps in college-going patterns across Massachusetts. With the postsecondary EWIS reports, counselors, school leaders and others can see exactly who is at risk of missing three important college readiness milestones, starting when students are in the 10th grade. For more about DESE's postsecondary data tools, see part 4 and 5 at this link and watch for more in the October e-newsletter. 

2. According to Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce.
Professional Development Opportunity: Data Usage Certificate
Are you looking for ways to improve your professional practice and improve outcomes for your students? You may be interested in the College and Career Data Usage Certificate, a unique partnership between MASCA, DESE and Reach Higher MA. This is geared toward school counselors and others who work directly with students, and open to anyone. This year's workshop will focus on using EWIS and deepening the cycle of inquiry.

With EWIS, we have an early warning. We can tell which students are at risk of not being ready for college, starting when students are in 10th grade. And we can tell who is at risk of not passing all 9th grade classes, who is at risk of not being middle-school ready, and who is at risk of not reading by the end of third grade – all while there is time to intervene and support students for success. Through a workshop, webinars and virtual learning opportunities over the year, we will support you as you navigate EWIS reports, implement changes and monitor students’ ongoing risk.

The series starts with an optional introductory webinar in October. An in-person half-day workshop on Oct. 25 is the anchor of the series. Participants will learn how to use the EWIS reports to examine students’ risk details and begin to identify underlying causes of risk. Optional webinars and virtual learning opportunities continue over the year, where participants share strategies and tools, celebrate successes, and troubleshoot challenges. The series ends with an optional Data Showcase event in the spring. Collect your findings and reflections into a data project to earn 15 PDPs and the College and Career Data Usage credential. Register at the link: College and Career Data Usage Certificate .
Now is the perfect time for an early look at students' attendance rates if it hasn't happened yet in your building. If students are already missing several days of school (10% of school days for high school students, or 20% for younger students) this may be time to investigate and intervene. See tips from Attendance Works to help cultivate good attendance habits.


EWIS website 

You may also find the College, Career, and Technical Education e-newsletter to be useful.
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