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Identifying Students At-Risk for Dropping Out of High School: Overview of a Tool for Developing Early Warning Systems

Nationally, U.S. high schools are failing to graduate approximately 30% of the country’s future workforce each school year. Identifying warning signs during important transition years is critical for targeting resources and interventions to prevent dropout. To help meet this challenge, the National High School Center released the Early Warning System Tool, an interactive resource that calculates if students, beginning in the ninth grade, are on track to graduate or at risk of dropping out based on available student-level indicators (such as attendance, course failures, and grade point average). The Early Warning System Guide provides information about factors that help predict the probability of students dropping out of high school, and offers guidance in building an early warning system.

The National High School Center is hosted "Identifying Students At-Risk for Dropping Out of High School: Overview of a Tool for Developing Early Warning Systems", an interactive Webinar, on January 28, 2009, from 3:00pm EST to 4:15pm EST, which provided a tour of the Early Warning SystemTool (please maximize the document’s screen in Excel in order to access all the spreadsheet tabs in the tool) and Early Warning Systems Guide along with information about how these resources can be used as part of a dropout prevention strategy to keep students in school. This Webinar will be posted to the under archived Webinars within ten working business days. View the Power point slides from this Webinar here.

Featured Presenters:

Jessica Heppen, Deputy Director, National High School Center
Jessica Heppen, Senior Research Analyst at AIR, currently serves as the Deputy Director of the National High School Center, a central source of information and expertise on high school improvement. In this capacity, she oversees project operations and also specializes in research in the areas of secondary mathematics and the use of data as a means for dropout prevention. She has recently authored a guide and a tool to help schools, districts, and states develop systems for monitoring student data to identify students who are off-track for graduation and postsecondary success. Dr. Heppen is also the Study Director for a large-scale randomized field trial with the Regional Educational Laboratory, Northeast and Islands, examining the impact of broadening access to Algebra I for eighth graders by providing online algebra courses. From 2005 to 2008, she also led an evaluation of the GE Foundation’s College Bound District Program, for which she conducted a longitudinal study based on surveys and administrative data in hundreds of schools located in several urban districts. Prior to working at AIR, Dr. Heppen conducted evaluation studies of the impact of a set of education technology programs on middle and high school student achievement in New York City. She holds a Ph.D. in social psychology from Rutgers University.

Mindee O’Cummings, Technical Assistance Liaison, National High School Center
Mindee O'Cummings, a Research Analyst at AIR, has worked in the field of education for over 13 years. Her experiences include teaching in special and general education settings; working as a school-based technology coordinator; serving as an elementary and middle school vice-principal; conducting research and program evaluations; providing technical assistance to educators, researchers, and developers; and working with families whose children have disabilities. Dr. O'Cummings currently serves as a Technical Assistance Liaison for the National High School Center and supports Regional Comprehensive Centers and state education agencies in their effort to improve high schools. She also serves as a Task Leader for the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent or At-Risk (NDTAC), and previously served as the Deputy Director for the Linking Assessment, Policy, and Practice in Children's Mental Health, for the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch of the Center for Mental Health Services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Project Director for the National Educational Technology Trends Study (NETTS), for the Policy and Program Studies Service at the U.S. Department of Education; and an Advisor for the National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI), a contract with the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education. As a Technical Assistance Liaison for the Elementary and Middle Schools Technical Assistance Center (EMSTAC), she assisted with the implementation of research-based practices to improve educational outcomes for children with disabilities. Dr. O'Cummings holds a B.S. and M.S. in Special Education from the University of New Mexico and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University. She has also served as adjunct faculty at both Arizona State University and George Mason University where she has taught classes in the areas of education and research methodologies.

Susan Therriault, Technical Assistance Liaison, National High School Center
Susan Bowles Therriault has worked as a researcher and technical assistance provider in the field of state level education policy for over 14 years. Her experience includes conducting research on comprehensive school reform models for middle and high schools, state policy focused on state accountability and support systems, school choice, state capacity for education reform and school leadership as well as providing technical assistance to state education agencies and districts as they implement improvement initiatives. Dr. Therriault currently serves as a researcher on a project funded by the Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation examining state systems of support for low-performing high school from the perspectives of state education agency administrators, support providers, district administrators, high school principals and teachers. She also serves as the Technical Assistance Liaison for the National High School Center and supports Regional Comprehensive Centers and state education agencies in their effort to improve high schools. Dr. Therriault’s primary research interest is state level education policy and politics, with an emphasis on the working relationships between federal, state and local entities as policy is developed and implemented within the public education realm. Her past and present research examines state systems of support for low-performing schools and more specifically support designed for low-performing high schools. Dr. Therriault holds and M.Ed. and Ed.D. in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.