A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

January/February, 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
These past few weeks have really reminded us that it is winter. Sometimes, between the winter light and winter cold, diving into a new project - or bringing 'fresh eyes' to a long-standing project - can recharge us through the winter months. In this Winter Refresh issue, please find a few ideas that may lend a fresh perspective to some long-standing areas of work. 

Thank you for all that you do.

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

Early Warning Indicator System Data Use Series:    
Click on the links to register for webinars.

One district tried an innovating approach to increasing attendance.

Students in K-8 who had previously struggled with low attendance were invited to a special assembly (letters had been sent home so that parents were aware). Gift cards were purchased with funding from the community. After every 10 days of perfect attendance, students won a gift card of increasing value, and after 60 days of perfect attendance they received a special reward.

The events and prizes sparked excitement among students and signaled that their community was invested in their success!


Data Meetings - or, Impacting Students through Intentional Collaboration

The EWIS Team has been talking with many district and school data teams lately and we have learned quite a bit about data meeting time. First, there’s never enough time: teams monitor students’ ABCs, discuss causes behind the data, assign students to interventions, adjust programming, discuss strategies for systemic changes … the list goes on. How do teams make the most of that collaboration time?

Around the state, teams use a range of styles for data meetings, and many teams we spoke to use a data meeting protocol. A protocol is a simple structure that guides a conversation during a data meeting. Some adhere to it loosely, others very closely. In many cases, teams are trained to use a particular protocol; others take an existing one and adapt it to suit their purposes. By offering structure, protocols may allow groups to delve deeply into important issues, make the most of limited time, and ensure that all voices are heard. It can also be a vehicle for colleagues to practice intentional collaboration. 

Although data protocols vary, there are some similarities. Many include the purpose of the meeting, a ‘primer’ or warm-up to spark engagement from the beginning of the meeting, and time estimates for agenda items. These include time for discussing data, drawing conclusions, and taking action or identifying next steps. Alongside the use of a protocol, teams may have shared expectations of the meetings (norms, scope and expected outcomes), and generally prepare data beforehand for the team to react to or use in the meeting itself.

Send your team’s protocol or highlights of your favorite data meeting strategies to, and see resources from DESE’s How Do We Know initiative for more on data use.
Data Meeting Tips and Tricks
Would you like some fresh ideas for your data meetings? Try these tips and tricks.
Some teams:
  • use a rolling agenda to easily reference notes from prior meetings
  • rotate roles (e.g., facilitator, note-taker, follow-up person, time-keeper)
  • take action during the meeting itself (as example, assign a student to an intervention using a form or assignment tool)
  • decide on which action to take, which is then addressed outside of the meeting
  • reflect periodically and adjust the process as needed - a good Step 6 end-of-year strategy
  • include diverse perspectives - and note when they are missing
  • build a 'team' feel and common language over time
  • celebrate successes 
New Resource for Monitoring Student Risk
Are you curious to try the new EWIS Monitoring Tool? See the new instructional video on the EWIS Monitoring website. In this video we cover how to use this tool to monitor student risk using the ABCs - attendance, behavior and course performance - or your favorite monitoring indicators. Check back for more instructional videos soon.
Even with just a little time ... 
  • Thirty minutes may be enough time to plan for an upcoming data meeting. Consider the purpose and expected outcomes, and prepare data for team members to review beforehand or discuss in the meeting. 
  • Do you work with 12th graders? Take 10 minutes log into Edwin and check your students' FAFSA Completion Reports. Find them in the 'High School & Beyond / Postsecondary Readiness' folder, and save them in a 'My Content' folder to find them easily in the future.  
  • Within 5 minutes, enjoy how Wahconah Regional High School Does Data


EWIS website 

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