Middle school can be a difficult time for students, academics aside, the social and emotional changes they are experiencing are great. Studies have shown that the combination of adolescence and living in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty can negatively impact student attendance, behavior, and effort. This period of extreme transition is a turning point for young students and a time when many predictive risk behaviors begin to emerge.
Because of this, these are important years to focus on early warning and intervention. Additionally, identifying students before they get to high school provides more time to intervene and get them back on-track for graduation.
There are three main steps to realizing early warning and intervention before high school:
1. Identifying At-Risk Students
What are the indicators you will monitor? As mentioned above, this step should begin long before a student enters high school. Not only will this help establish a baseline of information about that student, but can also catch any red flags earlier. Early warning solutions are helping districts do a better job of identifying students using tools such as machine learning and predictive analytics.
2. Implementing Interventions
Once a student has been identified for intervention services, it is important to implement with fidelity. How will you coordinate with all staff and educators involved in the intervention? Since this could begin before high school, tracking and monitoring progress through the intervention is vital to ensure it is accurately implemented over the years.
3. Evaluate Intervention Effectiveness
Finally, you must continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your intervention programs. If step two has been taken, it will allow you to understand which programs are working and which need to be reviewed for potential improvements. Especially if you are implementing multi-year programs, it is important to have the information necessary to make adjustments.
To dig deeper into this topic, read research by Robert Balfanz, Liza Herzog, and Douglas J. Mac Iver titled: Preventing Student Disengagement and Keeping Students on the Graduation Path in Urban Middle-Grades Schools: Early Identification and Effective Interventions.
As this study is lengthy, we’ve pulled together a synopsis with an overview of their findings and fast facts to help you understand their results.
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