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Early Warning Indicators

The early warning indicators (EWIs) help identify students in grades 5-12 who are at risk for dropping out.


EWIs are data points that district and school staff use to determine which students are at-risk. Schools and districts use an early warning system (EWS) to collect and analyze the EWIs.

School and district staff analyze the school-wide data for program evaluation. The EWIs are also used for universal screening to determine which students need additional support and to choose appropriate strategies for those students.

EWIs are easy to understand data that are already being collected by the schools, so all school staff should be able to recognize and address the concerns around individual students.

Measuring EWIs

EWIs fall into one of three categories: attendance, behavior, and course performance. Students are flagged with an EWI if they meet certain risk thresholds.

Most of the EWIs are measured at the end of each term (each quarter, semester, or trimester). The EWI is based on the data from a single term and does not carry over from one term to the next. This way, the performance in one term does not impact the data in the next term. This allows staff to properly monitor student progress.

Certain EWIs are also calculated within the first 20 days of the school year. This early data helps staff identify which students are at-risk before waiting until the end of the first term. Because of the short timeframe, and for consistency from term to term, the data from the first 20 days are also included in the data for the first term.

Attendance Indicator: Days Missed

  • Absent from 10 percent of instructional days.
  • Measure in the first 20 days and at the end of each term.

Behavior Indicator: Suspension/Expulsion

  • Suspended or expelled for any length of time.
  • Measure in the first 20 days and at the end of each term.

Course Performance Indicator: Failed Courses

  • Middle school: Failed at least one English Language Arts class.
  • Middle school: Failed at least one Math class.
  • High school: Failed at least one core course.
  • Measure at the end of each term.

Course Performance Indicator: Grade Point Average

  • High school: GPA under 2.0.
  • Measure at the end of each term.

​Incoming Risk Indicator

  • Review the flagged EWIs from the previous school year's last term.
  • Flag students with at least one EWI flagged from the previous term.
  • Measure in the first 20 days.

Overall Engagement Indicator

  • Review the flagged EWIs from the current screening period.
  • Identify students as having 0, 1, or 2+ flags.
  • Measure in the first 20 days and at the end of each term.

Progress Since Last Screening Period

  • Review each student's number of flagged EWIs from the previous and current screening period at the end of each term.
    • For the first term data, do not include flags from the first 20 days.
  • Identify students as:
    • Maintaining 0 flags
    • Reducing number of flags from 1 to 0
    • Reducing number of flags from 2+ to 1 or 0
  • Measure at the end of each term.
    • For the end of the first term, compare with the first 20 days.

Data Collection

EWS coordinators work with school leadership teams to determine and establish the most efficient method for collecting and analyzing the EWIs. Many schools already have a School Information System (SIS) that collects some or all of the information for EWIs. Schools can modify their SIS to make sure it aligns with all of the EWIs. Schools can also set up a separate Early Warning System (EWS) and import data from the SIS. Some schools work with their intermediate school districts (ISDs) or districts, who use a central data warehouse to track EWIs for their schools.

Data Entry

  • Data is collected through the established EWS.
  • The systems coach enters the school-level data into MiMTSS Data System during the data review coaching support session.

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