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Massachusetts Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS)

About EWIS

The Department created the new EWIS in direct response to educators' requests for early indicator data at earlier grade levels and throughout high school. The EWIS is a tool to systematically identify students that may need additional attention in order to reach an upcoming academic goal (expected student outcome). Traditionally early warning systems were most often implemented at the high school level to help predict which students are most likely to drop out. The new Massachusetts EWIS is for grade levels 1-12 and is connected to relevant academic goals throughout the academic trajectory.

Across the country, early indicators are becoming an increasingly important tool for educators to better design and target student interventions. An EWIS is intended to be a tool for educators to use in conjunction with other data and sources of information to better target student supports and interventions. Schools can use information from an early warning system to support students who are at risk of not meeting an expected academic goal with both school-wide strategies and targeted interventions. Districts and schools can also use early warning system data to examine school-level patterns over time in order to address systemic issues that may impede a student's ability to meet academic goals.

Massachusetts educators have a lot to be proud of; our fourth and eighth grade students continually outscore and outrank other states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), our four-year graduation rate has increased for the fifth consecutive year, and our high school dropout rate is at its lowest point in half a century. Despite these achievements, our work remains unfinished to close large and persistent proficiency gaps and to increase the percentage of graduates enrolling in higher education without the need for remedial courses.

Our students need us to take bold steps to make every school an excellent one and prepare them for success after high school. The Department hopes that the EWIS will provide another resource to reach this objective.

The Massachusetts EWIS predicts the likelihood a student will reach an expected academic goal. The EWIS includes risk models connected with four grade groupings: 1) early elementary, 2) late elementary, 3) middle school, and 4) high school. The risk models are each linked to a relevant academic goal (see table below) that are important to the success of Massachusetts students. A student that is "low risk" is predicted to be likely to meet the academic goal. The EWIS risk models reflect national research and promising practices, feedback from a range of stakeholders, and extensive testing of possible indicators of risk and statistical modeling using longitudinal Massachusetts data. The risk models only use readily available data from existing statewide collections.

EWIS Risk Model Age Groups Grade Levels Academic Goals
Expected student outcomes for each grade grouping
Early Elementary Grades 1-3 Proficient or advanced on 3rd grade ELA MCAS
Late Elementary Grades 4-6 Proficient or advanced on 6th grade ELA and Mathematics MCAS
Middle Grades Grades 7-9 Passing grades on all 9th grade courses
High School Grades 10-12 High school graduation

The Department is releasing student-level EWIS data to all districts via the Security Portal in September 2012 to encourage schools and districts to make timely decisions concerning the 2012-13 school year. In the future EWIS reports will be part of the Department's new teaching and learning platform; Edwin (expected to be available in winter 2012-13). More information about Edwin and the tools included will be available soon at on the Department's website and we invite you to follow Edwin on Twitter: @Edwin_DESE

Research is clear that a variety of factors contribute to a student's likelihood of reaching key academic goals. The EWIS is intended to be used as a starting point for identifying and supporting students who may be at risk for not reaching an upcoming academic goal. Because the EWIS data are calculated using data collected by the Department, districts and schools may also consider using local data to identify and support students.

It is important to note that the predictive power of the EWIS risk models rely heavily on the accuracy of the data reported to the Department and timely data submissions. The Department will identify data reporting issues that may affect the accuracy of the EWIS risk models and will support districts to resolve these issues in order to improve the EWIS tool. The risk models for the middle and high school grade levels rely on the use of data collected through the Student Course Schedule (SCS) collection. As a result, only districts that submitted their Student Course Schedule (SCS) data on time (due August 16, 2012) will be able to see early indicator data for their middle and high school students in September 2012. This was communicated through the Commissioner's Update in August 2012 and through a direct email to all superintendents. All districts that submitted their 2011-12 SCS data by the end of September 2012 will be able to see the early indicator data for all of their students (grades 1-12) by the end of October 2012 and also when Edwin is released in winter 2012-13.

The Massachusetts EWIS is… The Massachusetts EWIS is not…
A tool to better target interventions and supports at the individual, small group, and whole school levels. A "life sentence" or a reason to track students.
A systematic way to flag students that need to be further examined to determine what additional support are necessary. A diagnostic tool that provides details on the exact reason(s) why a student is at risk for not meeting an expected academic goal.
Related to measures that are included in the state's school and district accountability system (PPI), but is not itself an accountability measure. An accountability measure.
Based on data and risk models that the Department will reexamine each year to continually improve the system. A stagnant system that will remain exactly the same in future years.


Last Updated: June 9, 2015
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