National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

Developing Early Warning Systems to Identify Potential High School Dropouts

Heppen, J.,
Therriault, S. B.
Year Published: 2008
Issue Brief
National High School Center
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Nearly one-third of all high school students leave the public school system before graduating, say these authors, and the problem is particularly severe among students of color and students with disabilities. Educators, researchers, and policymakers are working to identify effective dropout prevention approaches. One important element of such prevention efforts is the identification of students at highest risk for dropping out and then the targeting of resources to keep them in school. An early warning system that uses indicators based on readily accessible data can predict, during students' first year in high school, whether the students are on the right path toward eventual graduation. This guide, intended for educators and policymakers at the school, district, and state levels, provides information about (1) factors that contribute to a student's dropping out, (2) research on early warning indicators, (3) school-level early warning systems, (4) district-level early warning systems, and (5) States' roles in supporting the development and use of early warning systems.

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