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Early Identification, Intervention Puts Michigan Students Back on Track to Graduate

MDE Shares Efforts to Improve Graduation Rates

 LANSING, MI – Michigan schools are more quickly identifying and providing support to students who need to get back on track to graduate with help from the Michigan Department of Education (MDE).

State Board of Education members at their meeting this week learned more about the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System, an effective dropout prevention program that MDE provides to local schools. The early warning system is just one way that the state is achieving Goal 5 of Michigan’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan, to increase the percentage of students who graduate from high school.

“I’m pleased that 2023 Michigan graduation rates were higher for all 17 student categories tracked than the year before and that 13 of 17 were higher than they were before the pandemic,” State Superintendent Dr. Michael F. Rice said. “Hard work by our local schools is paying off. That includes adopting evidence-based and data-driven processes such as the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System.”

The Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System is a seven-step process of examining data and making decisions about supports and interventions to help students get back on track for graduation and success. MDE trains and certifies coaches who provide intervention and monitoring training across the state.

In 2017, in collaboration with the Great Lakes Comprehensive Center at the American Institute for Research, MDE developed universal resources that schools and districts could access to explore and install the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System process.

As an introduction to the presentation at Tuesday’s State Board of Education meeting, Dr. Delsa Chapman, deputy superintendent for the MDE Division of Assessment, School Improvement, and Systems Supports, highlighted the release of graduation rate increase guidance documents in November 2022 for high schools and February 2024 for middle schools. A third project is planned for fall 2024 that will focus on the elementary grades. The guidance documents serve as a supplement to the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System.

“Research has consistently shown challenges with attendance, behavior, and academic performance are influential factors in high school dropout rates,” said Dr. Corinne Edwards, director of the MDE Office of Educational Supports and one of the presenters at Tuesday’s board meeting. “These indicators, when present as early as the sixth grade, significantly reduce the likelihood of graduating from high school. If schools can identify these students early and step in to support them, we can get them back on track to graduate.”

The National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research developed the seven-step process. The center wanted to help educators move from examining data for identification purposes to creating and implementing research-based action steps for students identified as being at risk to not graduate.

Michigan schools can access and independently use Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System resources provided by MDE, said educational consultant Ms. Bersheril Bailey, who leads MDE’s Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System efforts. On the MDE website, schools and others can find videos, PowerPoint presentations, a facilitator guide to accompany the videos, an implementation guide, and a link to self-paced courses for each step of the process. 

Additionally, 30 schools that are targeted for more support to help students graduate receive assistance from ten MDE Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System trainers/coaches.

In 2017, the Regional Education Lab Midwest released a study that determined that the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System is a promising evidence-based strategy for getting students back on track for graduation. After one year of implementation, schools using the system reduced the percentage of students with chronic absences and course failure. 

The National Dropout Prevention Center on its website recognizes the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System as a model dropout prevention program with strong evidence of effectiveness. 

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