Success For Each Child & Eliminate the Opportunity Gap by Leading with Racial Equity

Early Warning Systems


Early Warning Systems (EWS) uses research proven thresholds of the ABC’s (Attendance, Behavior and Course Performance) to identify students who are struggling early and intervene to bring students back on track for high school graduation and postsecondary success. Research proven, nationally recognized and highly predictive indicators generally include:

A – Attendance: 90% or lower

B – Behavior : Suspension/Expulsion

C – Course Performance:

  • Failure of core course in middle school
  • Failure of any course in high school

It is essential that all students graduating from high school are prepared and ready for postsecondary education. Georgetown University Center on Education in the Workforce projects that 67% of Washington State jobs will require postsecondary education by 2018. Early Warning Systems allow districts, schools and community partners to proactively use data to reduce disproportionality and target interventions for those students who most need additional support to reach graduation and beyond. It is a key strategy to help eliminate the opportunity gap and ensure success for each student.

Road Map Region

Since 2012, the Road Map districts of south King County (Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, Seattle and Tukwila) have worked together to develop and implement Early Warning Systems through the support of a Gates Foundation grant. The seven districts completed an inventory of their current EWS systems, and completed the following:

  • Agreed upon to two collective indicators to track
  • Organized district teams to lead EWS
  • Wrote Action Plans for EWS implementation
  • Created a best practice website repository
  • Produced two convenings with national experts such as Dr. Robert Balfanz from John Hopkins University’s Everyone Graduates Center

District and school teams are now integrating data displays of ABC indicators with their tiered intervention systems, monitoring progress and replicating high yield intervention strategies.

Pierce County

In the fall of 2014, PSESD expanded this work to Pierce County school districts. PSESD received an Early Warning Systems (EWS) grant from College Spark Washington to share lessons learned and accelerate progress in this work statewide. The three-year grant provides EWS support to four Pierce County school districts with high-percentages of free/reduced lunch rates, and provides continued support in the Road Map districts.

Bethel, Clover Park, Franklin-Pierce and Tacoma School Districts will receive coaching, professional development workshops, system implementation support and direct funding to help implement fully functioning Early Warning Systems. Please contact our Program Director, Marques Gittens, for more information about Pierce County collaboration.

Looking for resources?

Please visit our Early Warning Systems Resource Repository

Attendance Awareness Communications Toolkit

Kids running together at school with backpacks on

Download PDF Toolkit | Accessible Version

A Message from Attendance Works 

Attendance works is a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance. We promote tracking chronic absence data for each student beginning in kindergarten, or ideally earlier, and partnering with families and community agencies to intervene when poor attendance is a problem for students or schools.

Attendance Works has three objectives:

  • Build public awareness 
  • Foster state campaigns 
  • Encourage local practices 

This communications toolkit is inspired by the amazing work done by Attendance Works. The Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) Communications and Public Relations Department and the Early Warning Systems program partnered to develop a toolkit that was customized to the Puget Sound region and reflective of the PSESD’s commitment to create success for Each Child and Eliminate the Opportunity Gap by Leading with Racial Equity

Who Should Use This Toolkit?

The purpose of this toolkit is to rally communities around the cause of improving absenteeism. With that said, we encourage all school and district staff, as well as community organizations, religious institutions, local businesses, and family members to use this toolkit to improve attendance among the youth in your community.

How do we access it?

In addition to being available here online, there is a PDF version of the toolkit for you to download, review and share. Accessible version.

Social Media Graphics and Content


Absenteeism hits hardest among some of our most vulnerable populations. A recent report from Attendance Works and Everyone Graduates Center shows where chronically absent students are concentrated. Find out more in:   Preventing Missed Opportunity: Taking Collective Action to Confront Chronic Absence. #EverdayCountsEveryStudentMatters

Twitter: Sample Tweets
Image of students in background with text in middle
image of student getting help from mentor.
Image of students working together with text in middle.
image of students desks
Image of young students working together
image of student using an inhaler
image of babies with text in back
Image of students working with text in middle.
Image of alphabet blocks with chalkboard in the back with text
Absence image of paper pen and ruler
Attend, achieve, succeed image of two students doing work
Back to school image
Absence image in spanish
Image of paper and pencil with text
Picture of absent student of empty table

Washington State Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism Links

Truancy Laws

Data tools

Detailed Analysis: To address the issue of chronic absence most effectively, it is important to compile and analyze data on attendance for your district. Analyzing by grade, school, and sub-population will allow you to target your response to the groups that need it most. Below are templates to help guide your analysis.

Contact Info

Questions about the Toolkit? Please Contact one of us:

Nicole Chu
Program Manager
Early Warning Systems
P: 425.917.7854
Marques Gittens, M.Ed.
Program Director
Early Warning Systems
P: (425) 917.7758


EWS Resource Repository

This repository features references and resources examined for the EWIS projectResources below are organized into four categories: Getting Started, Data, Interventions and Evaluation and Replication. Information posted here is for your reference, we update and add to this resource on a regular basis.

Recent Event Materials & Resources:

Intervention Alignment Workshop for EWIS 10/21/14 at PSESD

Getting Started

Framework for Intervention

Pdf and PowerPoint presentation

EWS Inventory and Literature Review

2015 Pierce County EWS Inventory (pdf)

2012 Road Map EWS Inventory (pdf) and Literature Review (pdf)

Regional Road Map EWS Data

Regional Road Map EWIS Data

Race and Equity Tool

Race and Equity Tool (doc)

2014 Early Warning Indicator Systems Convening

Presentations from March 11, 2014

Handouts from March 11, 2014

2013 Convening Materials

Characteristics of High School Students and Dropouts

EWIS Convening Powerpoint

EWIS Implementation Cycle Planning Tool

Race to the Top

The Road Map Project 2014 Results Report

The text of the Road Map Consortium Race To The Top proposal

Information About Local EWIS Projects

Washington State to Have Better Understanding of Why Schools Suspend, Expel Kids – KPLU

HIGHLINE – The Highline Public Schools webpage contains a Power Point presentation about the On-Track Dashboard, research about early warning systems and frequently asked questions about the On-Track Dashboard.

KENT – Getting to High School Graduation: Identifying Early Warning Indicators to Prevent Dropouts, the Kent School District publication presenting results of the 2008 Cohort Study.

SEATTLE – New Insights from Cohort Studies: The Paths from Elementary School through High School to College and Career Readiness: A briefing for the Seattle Levy Oversight Committee, Mary Beth Celio, Northwest Decision Resources, April 2012

Seattle School District 2006 Cohort Study: A briefing for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Mary Beth Celio, Northwest Decision Resources.  September 2009

Identifying Indicators of Risk/Success in Seattle Middle and High Schools. A Briefing for Seattle City Council. Northwest Decision Resources. By Celio, M.B. (2011)

SPOKANE – Getting to Graduation and Beyond: Identifying indicators of risk of failure for students in the Spokane Public Schools. A presentation of the longitudinal study by Mary Beth Celio, of the Spokane Public Schools classes of 2008 and 2010 highlighting indicators predictive of graduation

Spokane schools using early-warning data system. Seattle Times, November 23, 2012. A news article summarizing the EWIS developed in the Spokane Public Schools.

SNOQUALMIE VALLEY – The staff resources page of Snoqualmie Valley Public Schools with videos introducing HomeRoom data dashboards with screen-shots and other information.


Statistical Information on Students Who Drop Out

Puget Sound Educational Service District Ends Report (2012)

Road Map Annual Results Report (2012). Community Center for Education Results.

The Consequences of Dropping Out of High School: Joblessness and Jailing for High School Dropouts and the High Cost for Taxpayers. Boston, MA Northeastern University, Center for Labor Market Studies. By Sum, A., Khatiwada, I. & McLaughlin, J. (2009)

Graduation and Dropout Statistics Annual Report 2010-11. Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Prepared by Came, D. and Ireland, L (2010)

Graduation Rate Calculations in Washington State. Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Dorn, R. & Came, D. (2012)

Public school graduates and dropouts from the Common Core of Data: School year 2009-10. U.S. Department of Education. (2011). Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics.

U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012

U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Youth Indicators 2011, America’s Youth: Transitions to Adulthood


ABC Interventions

The Power of Positive Connections – A Toolkit: Reducing Chronic Absence through PEOPLE: Priority Early Outreach for Positive Linkages and Engagement. Attendance Works (Aug. 2014)

Looking Forward to High School and College: Middle Grade Indicators of Readiness in Chicago Public Schools. The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. (2014)

The Importance of Staying in School: A Report on Absenteeism in the Nation’s Public Schools. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools.  By Balfanz, R. & Byrnes, V. (2012)

Challenging Behavior and Effective Discipline for All Students: Best Practice Strategies for Educators. National Association of School Psychologists. By Canter, A. & Wright, B. (2005)

Achievement Gap and the Discipline Gap: Two Sides of the Same Coin? Educational Research, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 59-68. By Gregory, A. Skiba, R. & Noguera, P. (2010)

Beyond the indicators: An integrated school level approach to dropout prevention. Arlington, VA: The Mid-Atlantic Equity Center, The George Washington University Center for Equity and Excellence in Education. By Mac Iver, M.A. & Mac Iver, D. J. (2009).

Gradual Disengagement: A Portrait of the 2008-2009 Dropouts in the Baltimore City Schools. Baltimore: Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Mac Iver, M. A. (2010)

Keeping on track in ninth grade and beyond: Baltimore’s ninth graders in 2007-08. Baltimore: Baltimore Education Research Consortium.  By Mac Iver, M. A. & Mac Iver, D. J. (2010).

What Works Clearinghouse Intervention Report. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. (2006)


National Research on Indicators

CHICAGO – Preventable Failure: Improvements in Long-Term Outcomes when High Schools Focused on the Ninth Grade Year. A research summary by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. April 2014.

Is “Moneyball” the next big thing in education?”, Jim Soland.

Education Policy Analysis Archives: In Search of Leading Indicators in Education. A peer-reviewed, independent, open access, multilingual journal. Arizona State University.

Road Map Region Race to the Top: PSESD Leads Meeting.

BALTIMORE- Predicting High School Outcomes in the Baltimore City Public School. A recent report on the Everyone Graduates website at the Johns Hopkins University

The web site for the Baltimore Education Research Consortium (BERC) with numerous reports and publications.

Gradual Disengagement: A Portrait of the 2008-2009 Dropouts in the Baltimore City Schools. Baltimore: Baltimore Education Research Consortium. By Mac Iver, M. A. (2010)

Keeping on track in ninth grade and beyond: Baltimore’s ninth graders in 2007-08. Baltimore: Baltimore Education  Research Consortium. By Mac Iver, M. A. & Mac Iver, D. J. (2010).

Predicting High School Outcomes in the Baltimore City Public Schools. The Council of the Great City Schools. The Senior Urban Education Research Fellowship Series, Volume VII. By Mac Iver, M.A. & Messel, M. (2012).

CHICAGO – Graduation Pathways: Chicago Public Schools’ Emerging Early Warning System. A presentation outlining the timing of early warning reports, the indicators used and screen shots of various reports showing the color-coding scheme to identify students receiving interventions

The on-track indicator as a predictor of high school graduation. Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research. By Allensworth, E., & Easton, J. (2005)

What matters for staying on-track and graduating in Chicago Public High Schools: A close look at course grades, failures and attendance in the freshman year. Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research. By Allensworth, E., & Easton, J. Q. (2007).

DELAWARE – Creating an Early Warning System: Predictors of Dropout in Delaware. Regional Educational Laboratory Mid- Atlantic Technical Assistance Brief  REL MA 1.2.75-10. By Uekawa, K., Merola, S., Fernandez, F. & Porowski, A. (2010)

PHILADEPHIA – Preventing Student Disengagement and Keeping Students on the Graduation Path in Urban Middle-Grade Schools: Early Identification and Effective Interventions. Philadephia: Educational Psychology, 42(4) 223-235. By Balfanz, R., Herzog, L., & Mac Iver D.J. (2007)

TENNESSEE- Early Warning Indicator Analysis: Tennessee. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools. By Balfanz, R., Wang, A. & Byrnes, V. (2010

NATIONAL –Preventing Future High School Dropouts: An Advocacy and Action Guide for NEA State and Local Affiliates. Washington D.C.: National Education Association. By Dianda, M. (2008)

Identifying potential dropouts: Key lessons for building an early warning data system. Washington, DC: Achieve. By Jerald, C. (2006).

Dropout Nation. Public Broadcast System. Frontline. September 21, 2012. By Beslow, J. (2012)


Evaluation & Replication

Implementation Guides

On Track for Success: The Use of Early Warning Indicator and Intervention Systems to Build a Grad Nation.  Civic Enterprises and The Everyone Graduates Center at John Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools.  By Bruce, M., Bridgeland, J., Fox, J.H., Balfanz, R. (2011)

District Dropout Prevention Planning Guide Dropout Prevention Self-Assessment Tool: A Guide For School District Self-Assessment. By Dr. Kelly Goodsell, Puget Sound Educational Service District (2012).

Developing Early Warning Systems to Identify Potential High School Dropouts. National High School Center. By Heppin, J. B. & Therriault, S. B. (2008).

Learning What it Takes: An Initial Look at how Schools are using Early Warning Indicator Data and Collaborative Response Teams to Keep All Students on Track to Success. Philadelphia Education Fund. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Center for Social Organization of Schools. By Herzog, L., Davis, M. & Legters, N. (2011).

Team Playbook: Using Data to Keep Student on Track to Graduation. By John Hopkins University (2012)

AN Early Warning System Implementation Guide. National High School Center. By Therriault, S., Heppen, J., O’Cummings, M., Fryer, L., & Johnson, (2010).

English Language Learners

What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public Schools: A Focus on English Language Learners. Chicago: The University of Chicago Consortium of Chicago School Research and the National High School Center. By Gwynne, J., Pareja, A.S., Ehrlich, S.B. & Allensworth, E.  (2012)

The English Learner Dropout Dilemma: New Report Examines the Consequences, Causes and Solutions to High School Dropout Rate among English Language Learners. California Dropout Research Project Report. Santa Barbara: CA: University of California. Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. Callahan, Rebecca M. (2013)

Special Education Students

Students with Disabilities who Drop Out of School – Implications of Policy and Practice. Minneapolis, MN:University of Minnesota, National Center of Secondary Education and Transition, Institute on Community Integration.June 2002, Volume 1, Issue 2. By Thurlow, M., Sinclair, M. & Johnson D. R. (2002)

The High School Dropout Dilemma and Special Education Student. California Dropout Research Project Report #18. Santa Barbara: CA: University of California. Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. By Thurlow, M. & Johnson, D. (2011).

Family Engagement

Raising Their Voices: Engaging Students, Teachers, and Parents to Help End the High School Dropout Epidemic. Civic Enterprises and Peter D. Hart Research Associates. For the AT&T Foundation and the America’s Promise Alliance.  Bridgeland, J. M., Balfanz, R., Moore, L. A. & R. S. Friant (2010).

The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts. Civic Enterprises and Peter D. Hart Research Associates. For the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. By Bridgeland, J. M., Dilulio, J. J. & K. B. Morison (2006).

Seeing is Believing: Promising Practices for How School Districts Promote Family Engagement. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project. By Westmoreland, H., Rosenberg, H., Lopez, E. & Weiss, H. (2009).


Reclaiming Students: The educational and economic costs of exclusionary discipline in Washington State. By Washington Appleseed and TeamChild. November 2012.

Collective Impact for Opportunity Youth. By Fan Hanleybrown, Kate Tallant, Daria Steinberg and Mimi Corcoran.

Multiple Pathways for Young Adults: A Report to the Washington Legislature on Youth Adult Employment. Olympia, WA: Workforce Training and Coordinating Board. (2012)


Falling off Track during the Transition to High School: What We Know and What Can Be Done. The Future of Children, Volume 19, No. 1, Spring 2009. By Neild, R.C. (2009)

Strengthening Statewide Systems of Support Regional Meeting. New England Comprehensive Center. (2008).

When Mobility Disrupts Learning. Alexandria, VA: Educational Leadership, Vol. 65, Number 7, pages 59-63. By Smith, J., Fein, H & Paine, S. (2008)

K-12 EDUCATION: Many Challenges Arise in Educating Students Who Change Schools Frequently. U.S. Government Accountability Office (2010)


Community Truancy Boad Toolkit. Spokane County Juvenile Court.

Promoting Positive Outcomes Truancy Reduction: Research, POlicy and Practice. Center for Chidren & Youth Justice, Seattle, WA. By Combo, G., Burden, H., & Burke, I. (2012)