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An Early Warning Reporting System


High school graduation is a minimum requirement for successful adulthood and yet approximately one-third of North Carolina students who enter high school as ninth graders will not graduate within four years. Hallinan (2008) cites that some young adults drop out of high school because they perceive that no one is monitoring their performance or participation to ensure that they stay focused and on the path to high school completion. To that end a need exists to facilitate an early warning system for students at risk of dropping out.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has developed Graduation Resiliency, a web-based report designed to facilitate the early identification of students who may be at risk of dropping out of school through the examination of the most predictive risk factors cited by research (Allensworth, 2009).

The pilot edition, Phase I, of the software will allow schools and districts to examine the historical performance of students based on five primary risk factors over a four-year academic period. The first year tracks middle school performances of current ninth graders. The average of the five primary risk factors determines a relative risk level for each student. Once students enter ninth grade, the primary risk factors are based upon the previous academic year.

Risk Factors

Phase I of Graduation Resiliency focuses on five research-based risk factors:

  • Attendance
    • More than five absences in any one semester
  • Middle school academic performance in reading and math
    • Final grade of less than "C" in required mathematics for sixth, seventh, and eighth grades
    • Final grade of less than "C" in required English language arts for sixth, seventh, and eighth grades
  • On-track credits earned each year of high school
    • Fewer than five credits at end of grade nine
    • Fewer than 10 credits at the end of grade ten
    • Fewer than 15 credits at the end of grade eleven
  • Grade Point Average
    • Grade Point Average of less than 2.0 for any high school year
  • End-of-Course Status
    • Non-proficient (Levels I & II) score on the Algebra I end-of-course test by the beginning of grade ten
    • Non-proficient (Levels I & II) score on the Biology end-of-course test by the beginning of grade ten
    • Non-proficient (Levels I & II) score on the English I end-of-course test by the beginning of grade ten

Risk Level

All students registered in the state's student data system are included in the risk level analysis. Risk level is calculated by equally weighting risk factors (eg attendance, credits earned, etc.) applicable to a particular academic year.

Risk levels categories are <.25, .25-49, and .50 – 1.0. Students possessing fewer than 25% of the identified risk factors are generally not considered "at risk" of dropping out of high school prior to graduation and will not appear in the program. Students possessing .25 to .49 of the risk factors border at-risk categorization. Students possessing .50 or more of the risk factors are targeted to be at risk, and interventions should occur.

NCWISE Reports

Graduation Resiliency summarizes NCWISE student data from the previous school year. All reports are designed to be run at the beginning of the academic year to assist school staff in addressing issues and identifying students who have a risk factor greater than .50. School staff can then put into place academic and social interventions linked to a student's risk factors in order to be proactive and provide assistance prior to the student's decision to drop out.

Data points required to analyze individual student risk level are collected in NCWISE. Through NCWISE reporting hubs, Graduation Resiliency allows four reports, one at ninth grade, tenth grade, eleventh grade and twelfth grade. The reporting hub is accessible to NCWISE school data managers, district coordinators, principals, and others as designated by the local school district.

The ninth grade report, run at the start of the ninth grade year, analyzes attendance and math and English language arts subject grades for sixth, seventh and eighth grade academic years, using historical data.

A tenth grade report, run at the start of the tenth grade, uses only ninth grade attendance and academic performance.

An eleventh grade report, run at the start of the eleventh grade year, uses tenth grade attendance and performance data.

The twelfth grade report, run at the start of the twelfth grade year, considers eleventh grade attendance and performance data.

Accessing Graduation Resiliency Reports
(pdf, 64kb)

Phase II

Input from local schools and districts, Graduation Resiliency – Phase II (slated for implementation October 2013) guided the decision to provide early warning report for all students beginning at first grade.

Sample Report
(pdf, 66kb)