THE USE OF THE EARLY WARNING INDICATOR REPORT TO IMPACT NINTH GRADE PROMOTION RATES IN A LARGE URBAN SCHOOL DISTRICT
Tasby, Tamika N.
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Abstract The purpose of this study was to examine how four high schools used an Early Warning Indicator Report (EWIR) to improve ninth grade promotion rates. Ninth grade on-time promotion is an early predictor of a student’s likelihood to graduate (Bornsheuer, Polonyi, Andrews, Fore, & Onwuegbuzie, 2011; Leckrone & Griffith, 2006; Roderick, Kelley-Kemple, Johnson, & Beechum, 2014; Zvoch, 2006). The analysis revealed both similarities and differences in the ways that the four schools used the EWIR. The research took place in a large urban school district in the Mid-Atlantic. Sixteen participants from four high schools and the district’s central office voluntarily participated in face-to-face interviews. The researcher utilized a qualitative case study method to examine the implementation of the EWIR system in Wyatt School District. The interview data was transcribed and analyzed, along with district documents, to identify categories in this cross case analysis. Three primary themes emerged from the data: (1) targeted school structures for EWIR implementation, (2) the EWIR identified necessary supports for students, and (3) the central office support for school staff. The findings revealed the various ways that the target schools implemented the EWIR in their buildings and the level of support that they received from the central office that aided them in using the EWIR to improve ninth grade promotion rates. Based on the findings of this study, the researcher provided a number of key recommendations: (1) Districts should provide professional development to schools to ensure that schools have the support they need to implement the EWIR successfully; (2) There should be increased accountability from the central office for schools using the EWIR to identify impactful interventions for ninth graders; and (3) The district needs to assign dedicated central office staff to support the implementation of the EWIR in high schools across the district. As schools continue to face the challenge of improving ninth grade promotion rates, effective use of an Early Warning Indicator Report is recommended to provide school and district staff with data needed to impact overall student performance.