Middle School Moment and the Early Warning and Response System

Did you know that across our nation, 7,000 students drop out every school day, but new evidence suggests that the make-or-break moment for high school dropouts may actually occur in middle school.

FRONTLINE examines one Bronx school's unique approach and the research behind it is influencing how we work here in our community.


Local Implications

Using the same, research based strategy, outlined in this short video, United Way's Middle School Success Initiative, Asheville City Schools, and Buncombe County Schools are working to improve collaborations that better serve our local middle school students with the Early Warning and Response System, a dashboard which helps educators quickly identify the students who are showing early signs of trouble; allowing better collaboration and interventions to prevent them from falling through the cracks. Years in the making, this dashboard will soon be at the center of local efforts to support students. 

Our Early Warning and Response System pulls attendance, behavior and course grades data automatically and, using a red, yellow and green flagging system, shows educators exactly where a student stands. This type of analysis of student data is not new to educators. School administrators have manually gathered this same kind of data for years, but the process was highly labor intensive (manual spreadsheets from multiple systems). What is exciting to our educators is that student performance data will now be available at the click of a button, and in real time.

“Research has shown that when a middle school student is off track in even one of those three indicators (attendance, behavior, and course grades) they are substantially less likely to graduate from high school,” said Zachary Goldman, Community Investment Manager at United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

Having this real-time data is crucial and will allow the whole team - school, family and community partners - to work together to getting the student back on track. This project has been three years in the making.

"We are excited for the increased ability for educators and community partner organizations to be able to work together to meet the needs of our students," said Goldman. "It is remarkable evidence of the commitment of the Asheville and Buncombe County community that two school systems (Asheville City and Buncombe County) are working together with each other, with a large number of nonprofits in the community, and with United Way to develop a shared data dashboard as part of a wider Early Warning and Response System designed to ensure that all students are connected to the resources and supports they need to thrive in school."

Last month, representatives from our schools, community partners, United Way, and our dashboard vender, Learning Circle, all gathered together to unveil and learn the Early Warning and Response System. For the remainder of the school year, a small group will test the system to make sure it is working correctly and the goal is to roll the dashboard out to more schools in the 2017-18 school year.