A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

May, 2019
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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

Spring is an exciting time as district and school leaders, counselors and other staff support students with school transition meetings, graduation preparations, college- and career-going activities and more. Below we offer a few resources, celebrations and reflections from the field that may be useful as you wind down the school year.

Thank you for your work, and we hope you enjoy this electrifying season.

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

Edwin Office Hours - highlighting the CVTE Pathways Report - June 6, 2019

Watch for the DESE team at Connecting for Success, MSAA and other summer conferences. 

Please take DESE's Communications Survey

"The best part about working together as a team has been the different ideas regarding interventions that may work for different students. We're thinking about conversations with the 9th grade teachers - so they know what we've done with students this year in case they want to build on it next year." 

This year in one district, a team placed targeted effort on understanding and supporting 8th graders systematically using EWIS, and incorporating monitoring strategies into the Positive Behavior Intervention System previously in place. Pleased with the results, they have been planning how to share their progress as students move on to 9th grade.


School Transition Meetings
School Transition Meetings - sometimes called 'Spring Hand-off Meetings' - are similar to other mid-year monitoring opportunities. These are a time to update students' risk status with latest indicators, review students' progress in interventions, and consider what is working and perhaps what to change. However, they are different in important ways: spring transition meetings may encompass a full-year view, and they may tie into summer programming and supports for the next year. They can also strengthen connections across buildings, such as elementary to middle school, and middle school to high school.* 

We asked several specialists about how they prepare for 8th/9th grade transition planning. Here are some strategies:
  • Ask a common set of questions of the 8th grade teams. This is especially helpful when there are multiple sending schools filtering into one high school building.
  • Identify several challenges that 9th graders experience in a building (e.g., attendance). Ask 8th grade teams for strategies on how students with these challenges are best supported. Communication about 'what worked' for students is key.
  • Balance hand-off transitions with an opportunity to ‘start fresh’. It's important to be selective about what is shared. 
 *Following data guidelines for your district.
Connecting Students to Summer Programming
Many school-based and district-based teams are involved in summer programming in their communities. Late spring is a great time to strengthen these connections for students. Teams may refer to the most recent ‘ABCs’ – attendance, behavior & course performance data – to understand students’ current risks, and incorporate that into planning, advocating for or recommending summer support. Dive into the data to understand why, and if possible, modify summer programming to meet students’ strengths and challenges.

This is especially important in the context of summer learning loss: over the summer, most students lose two months of learning in math, and students who are economically disadvantaged may lose more than two months of learning in reading. Accumulated over time, this can impact whether or not a child finishes high school and continues on to college. In the spring, counselors and data teams can consider who may need or benefit from supports during the summer.

Read more about summer learning here.  
High School Graduates and their College Plans
Many high school graduates – students who, in springtime, have concrete plans to attend college – do not attend college in the fall. These may be students who have applied and been accepted to a college, and even applied for financial aid. In higher ed circles, this is called summer melt – a cute name, and a scary concept. Research shows that student plans change for a variety of factors – factors that may seem manageable if students have a mentor or champion, but without that support, can become insurmountable. Students transitioning to college may benefit from support from a knowledgeable relative, teacher, counselor, or community member through the summer. This summer melt guide explains this important challenge and includes strategies to respond to it.

Has summer melt affected your students in the past? Use the Postsecondary Reports in Edwin to see the college-going trend of former students. Find these in Edwin under High School and Beyond folder; then, Postsecondary Success. (The short video Part 4: Postsecondary Success has tips for using them.) Compare these to the plans of high school graduates reported for your school or district. 
New Resources
Even a little time is enough to keep moving... 
  • With thirty minutes, make notes on what's worked and what you'd want to pass on to others as students move from one grade or school to another.
  • In ten minutes, read about summer learning and summer melt.
  • With five minutes, schedule time with colleagues for Spring Transition Meetings, or carve out time for yourself to review any of the new resources.
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