A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

March/April, 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

With early spring come conversations about next year's courses... scheduling, course selection, Programs of Study and more. Often we are asked how EWIS and other data might inform course-taking and scheduling efforts. After examining 9th grade readiness patterns, college-going trends and more in a local context, educators may consider system-wide changes in course offerings, targeted instruction and more. In this edition we share several examples of systematic changes teams have incorporated as they think creatively about offering rigorous courses and discussing course options with students.

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)

Edwin Office Hours - Workforce Report: April 4, 2019

Preparing for Spring Handoff Meetings: 
April 11, 2019

Please take DESE's Communications Survey

"We first thought, ‘we can’t have everyone taking algebra’ – but then, ‘why not?’ We looked at the math pathways and saw that if they don’t finish Algebra 2 by junior year, they just don’t have time for advanced coursework. So let’s pull it into the scope and sequence sooner. It was a shift in the mindset and we're working through it."

For course-taking patterns in your school - MassCore  completion, 12th graders passing a full year of math or science, AP course-taking and more - see the Success after High School DART. For more on math sequencing, please see this Quick Reference Guide.


Selecting Language Courses

With the help of the postsecondary EWIS, school counselors in one district saw that students at risk of not enrolling in college had not taken a second year of a foreign language. (Taking two years of the same foreign language is recommended in MassCore and part of the minimum admissions standards for four-year Massachusetts colleges and universities.) Upon examination, the counselors saw that course selection materials were unclear on this point, and checks were not in place for students to be advised or encouraged to take a second year. Counselors scheduled students in the appropriate courses, and also modified the course selection process and materials to prevent this in the future.
Preparing Students for Academic Success in College

Recently the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education adopted a policy of using multiple measures to assess student readiness and co-requisite support. Among the changes is a greater reliance on a student’s high school grade point average as an indication of whether the student is ready for college-level courses.

The postsecondary EWIS offers a preview before students even begin college: students at risk of not taking credit-bearing courses are identified as early as tenth grade. With reports in Edwin, educators can examine nuances of courses taken and students' performance. These, alongside local data and context, can help to build an understanding of the causes of risk and inform strategies for building on students' successes and closing academic gaps.

For more on Using the Postsecondary EWIS, see the guidance document and short instructional video on the EWIS website. Postsecondary EWIS reports are found in Edwin Analytics in the EWIS folder. 
Data Dive Led to System-wide Changes in Math

In one district, educators used EWIS to identify students who were at risk of not passing all their 9th grade courses. The EWIS reports highlighted a disconnect between some students' math grades and math MCAS scores. Digging deeper into MCAS results using Edwin reports and aligning this to local benchmarking tests, they narrowed in on content areas that were most problematic for students. A team worked together to improve math instruction in these areas. The investigation, exploration into causes and solution took hold over several years and allowed for collaboration across the district. 
Student Progress Toward MassCore

With a report in Edwin, high school educators and counselors can see the extent to which their students are on track to complete MassCore (the state-recommended program of study intended to align high school coursework with college and workforce expectations). This information can be valuable in individual advising conversations and when planning system-wide supports. The student-level report shows course completions as reported in Student Course Schedule data at the end of each school year, and can be combined with current local data for a complete picture of students' progress. Shaded columns indicate if a student is falling behind in earning the expected MassCore units for each grade level.

The Student Progress Toward MassCore report is found in Edwin Analytics in the High School & Beyond folder, under Postsecondary Readiness. 
Even a little time is enough to keep moving... 
  • With thirty minutes, check students' progress to MassCore. The Edwin report shows MassCore progress by the end of last year. Include this year's grades to date to understand who may not be on track for MassCore, and weave into planning courses and supports for next year.
  • In ten minutes, hear educators describe how they've developed early warning monitoring systems to monitor student risk and adjust supports throughout the school year. (This video and more are on the EWIS Monitoring website). Carve out time with colleagues to establish a system for your school.
  • With five minutes, sign up for a webinar or download the Success after High School DART for course-taking trends in schools.
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