A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

October, 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

Of the Massachusetts students who graduated "on time" from high school in 2017, seventy-one percent enrolled in some college or university education in the fall immediately after graduation. This number has hovered around seventy percent for the past five years. Not only this, deep and persistent gaps exist statewide across various student groups. College enrollment is not the only challenge: among those attending Massachusetts public colleges and universities, nearly one third take a remedial course in their first semester.

For this reason, this month's EWIS e-newsletter is dedicated to increasing college access through the use of the Postsecondary EWIS. Counselors, school leaders and others may use these reports in data-driven conversations to understand their students more deeply, then craft or adjust interventions to better support students in ways that fit the local context. 

While we celebrate progress, we also must recognize the work left to do. Let us continue to work together in unprecedented ways: challenging old assumptions, thinking creatively, and making a collective commitment to preparing all students to navigate an economically viable career path in the 21st century.

We hope you will find this useful and inspiring, 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 webinars.

Choose any that are right for you: plan data meetings, explore new tools for monitoring students' risk and discuss strategies for adjusting student supports throughout the school year. Is something missing? Email EWIS with requests.

With the help of the postsecondary EWIS, a counseling team in one district made a list of all the 12th graders who were high and moderate risk of not enrolling in college, about 1/3 of the class. After examining the Student List reports, they decided to prioritize college planning with these students. They set a goal of meeting with these students by December 1st, and in those meetings, they helped students craft college and career plans. Counselors checked back with students over the year to help the students complete their plans. 

Do you have an EWIS data story? Send examples of how you and your team have used EWIS to improve outcomes for students. Your story may inspire others!


"At Risk" of What?
With the K12 EWIS, we can tell which students are at risk of missing important academic milestones, starting when students are in the first grade - while there is time to intervene and change things around! EWIS predicts which students are at risk of missing milestones across the academic spectrum. Students in grades 1 through 9 each have one risk level:
  • Risk of not Reading by the End of Third Grade (or, Meeting/Exceeding Expectations on ELA MCAS) for students in grades 1-3
  • Risk of not being Middle School Ready (or, Meeting/Exceeding Expectations on ELA & Math MCAS) for students in grades 4-6
  • Risk of not being High School Ready (or, Passing all 9th Grade Courses) for students in grades 7-9
The Postsecondary EWIS predicts students' college readiness risk, starting when students are in the 10th grade. For students in grade 10 and higher, there are four risk levels: 
  • Risk of not Graduating from high school
  • Risk of not Enrolling in Postsecondary Education
  • Risk of not Taking Credit-bearing Courses 
  • Risk of not Enrolling in a 2nd Year of Postsecondary Education
Using EWIS alongside local context, incorporating the resources into existing routines, or modifying local supports, educators can help put students on a path for success. 
Monitoring Students' Postsecondary Risk Throughout the Year

Maybe you already keep an eye on students' attendance and grades, and you'd like to add some 'on track to college' measures for high school students. Or maybe you're just getting started with tracking progress and adjusting interventions. Consider including a measure of students' changing college readiness throughout the year. Two are particularly useful:
  • A checklist of students' postsecondary preparation milestones. These are the navigation steps students take in high school to keep all postsecondary options open. They include visits to colleges and universities, meeting with a college counselor, taking MassCore (the recommended course of study), completing a FAFSA form and more. Watch for more about the Edwin FAFSA Completion reports later this year.   
  • A composite measure or checklist illustrating the 'academic intensity' of a student's high school experience. This may include taking courses such as computer science and foreign language; developing strong writing skills; participating in higher-level coursework (AP, IB or dual enrollment/early college) and completing a capstone, senior project or other additional learning opportunity. 
This data-driven approach practice of monitoring college readiness risk and tracking interventions may lead to changes at the individual, small group, and school- or district-wide levels. Explore the EWIS monitoring resources or this research brief for more. 
College or Career? College AND Career

Sometimes we're asked, "My students are not interested in going to college. Does the Postsecondary EWIS really matter to me?" The short answer is, "Yes!". And the full answer is complex. 
  • As we know, “life-long learning" may be required of students in the vast majority of paths they pursue. The Postsecondary EWIS identifies who is on track for college, whenever they may chose to go: immediately following high school graduation, after a 'gap year' or at some point in the future.
  • The Postsecondary EWIS does not tell us who "should go" to college, and we do not pass judgement on those who choose a different path. It does tell us which students are not prepared for college, or who are shut out of potential future plans.
  • While we cannot currently predict workforce readiness, we expect that the Postsecondary EWIS captures many of the same elements. (We'd love to predict students' likelihood of completing certifications, apprenticeships and more. In reality, statewide data collections are not in a place where we can do that yet.)
  • Nearly all of the 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. [1] Participation in college simply increases the likelihood of earning a living wage. 
  • There are deep gaps in college-going patterns when comparing groups of students statewide; your school likely has them, too. [2] Use the Postsecondary EWIS to understand who is not yet on track for college. The results may surprise you! Use this to continue down the path of building on students' unique strengths and addressing their challenges. 
Let's help all students become college and career ready with the Postsecondary EWIS. 
[1] According to Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce, nearly all of the 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] Explore gaps at Success After High School DART  or
High Expectations Matter 

"These kids were at risk of dropping out — now they're talking about rooming together in college." 

That's what an educator said after using the Postsecondary EWIS to identify and support students over much of the school year. Now, we don't know that these students made it to college or how they're doing in a college environment. But we do know that high expectations matter. Research has borne this out, too. 

"Students might perceive and emotionally react to low or high teacher expectations, which could benefit or damage the quality of their work. Or, they might actively modify their own expectations and, in turn, their behavior to conform to what they believe teachers expect of them. Alternatively, teachers with expectations for certain types of students may modify how they teach, evaluate, and advise them, and in the case of low expectations, could perhaps shift their attention, time, and effort to other students. Each of these possibilities creates feedback loops that trigger self-fulfilling prophecies: intentionally or not, teacher expectations cause student outcomes to converge on what were initially incorrect expectations." [3] 

[3] "Teachers' Lower Expectation for Black Students May Become 'Self-Fulfilling Prophecies', Study Finds", Education Week

Using EWIS

EWIS is most powerful when used as part of an ongoing data-driven cycle of inquiry. Using local data and context, educators can move through a data inquiry cycle: examining underlying causes of risk, aligning student supports to address the causes of risk, monitoring progress throughout the school year and adjusting as needed. Contact DESE's EWIS Team for guidance or questions. 
Even if you have just a little time, you can get started. 
  • If you have 30 minutes, pull up EWIS Postsecondary reports to understand who is most at risk for college readiness. Book time to return to this on your own or with colleagues, and to dive into the Student List together. 
  • If you have 10 minutes, look up your school's results on the the Success after High School DART . Look at trends in postsecondary enrollment, degree completion or remedial coursetaking... or see what catches your interest!
  • If you have 5 minutes, watch a video (part 4 or 5) to get a feel for what's available. Talk with your district’s Directory Administrator about access to Edwin.

DESE's EWIS Team develops resources and offers workshops and technical assistance for educators using EWIS and other data to improve outcomes for students. 


EWIS Monitoring 
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