WWC review of this study

An Efficacy Study of a Ninth-Grade Early Warning Indicator Intervention

Martha Abele Mac Iver, Marc L. Stein, Marcia H. Davis, Robert W. Balfanz (2019). Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: October 2019

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Secondary school attendance outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Grade 9 attendance

Early Warning Intervention (EWI) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample - Grade 9;
7,985 students




Show Supplemental Findings

Chronic absenteeism

Early Warning Intervention (EWI) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample - Grade 9;
7,985 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 50%
    Male: 50%

  • Rural, Suburban, Urban
  • Race
    Other or unknown
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    


The study took place in 41 high schools in 22 school districts within a single state in the United States. There were 11 high schools located in mid-size cities, 15 high schools located in small cities/towns, and 15 high schools located in rural areas. Students in grade 9 are included in the analysis. (pp. 1, 3, 11)

Study sample

First-time grade 9 students are included in the analysis. The grade 9 analytic sample was 38 percent African American, 59 percent White, and 3 percent of another race. Fifty percent of the analytic sample were female, 2 percent were Latino/a, and 61 percent qualified for free or reduced-price lunch. (Table 2, p. 13)

Intervention Group

The EWI Team model is designed to help school staff monitor and intervene when grade 9 students exhibit early warning indicators of a student being off-track toward graduation. These early warning indicators are “high absenteeism, behavior problems, and course failure” (p. 364). In the schools assigned to the EWI Team model intervention condition, a half-time on-site facilitator, with an education or social work background, was placed in the school. Using a team-based model, the on-site facilitator provides school administrators, teachers, and school staff (the EWI team) with early warning indicator data used to identify at-risk and off-track students, works with the EWI team to develop a plan, and monitors the impacts. The EWI Team model is based on aspects of, and shares similarities with, other published dropout prevention models including the Check & Connect-type case management model, the Diplomas Now School Transformation/Turnaround model, and the Early Warning Intervention and Monitoring System intervention. (pp. 3-7)

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison condition schools received business as usual support. Schools assigned to the comparison condition received $5,000 each year for their two years of participation in the study. (p. 10)

Support for implementation

The EWI Team, including the on-site facilitator, school administrators, teachers, and school staff, completed a three-day professional training prior to the implementation of the program. The on-site facilitator participated in separate four-day trainings throughout the school year. External staff from the EWI model development team or the State Department of Education visited the intervention schools bi-monthly for day-long visits to provide implementation support. The study estimates that the cost per school for the half-time on-site facilitator and external staff is approximately $44,000 per year in the state in which the study was implemented. (pp. 4, 7)


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