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EWS 201: Systems and Structures That Support Early Warning System Implementation

Schools and districts nationwide are turning to Early Warning Systems (EWS) to reduce dropout rates and promote on-time graduation. Two elements that are essential for an effective EWS are the development of an implementation team and the alignment of the EWS with related data use initiatives.

This 90-minute video is most relevant school and district staff members who have begun to establish an EWS team, but would like more information on how to incorporate EWS into everyday practices. In addition to sharing how to build an effective team, presenters discuss strategies for aligning the EWS with tiered frameworks such as Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and Response to Intervention (RTI). Guidance on how to match interventions to indicators and evaluate whether there are enough interventions to support the number of identified struggling students is provided, and two practitioners share their journey of using data to increase the success of their students.

Additional readings

A Practitioner's Guide to Implementing Early Warning Systems (REL Northwest)
EWS research and implementation resources (American Institutes for Research)


Webinar presenters represent four RELs—REL Northwest’s Sarah Frazelle, REL Central’s Jason Harlacher, and REL Northeast and Islands’/REL West’s Jenny Scala—that have helped states and districts nationwide with EWS implementation. Using REL Northwest’s A Practitioner's Guide to Implementing Early Warning Systems, they will guide participants through discussion and activities related to team development, intervention and indicator mapping, cross-team communication, and data-system integration.

Sarah Frazelle is a senior advisor at Education Northwest. She serves as the lead for the Montana Data Use Alliance at REL Northwest and has also led previous REL Northwest work on EWS implementation in Montana, Oregon, and Washington. She is the coauthor of A Practitioner's Guide to Implementing Early Warning Systems, an EWS implementation guide developed for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

Jason Harlacher is a senior researcher with Marzano Research. He uses his extensive experience in tiered frameworks to provide research, technical assistance, and consultation for schools and educators on this topic and on using data to make decisions. He has published several articles on Response to Intervention and is the author of Designing Effective Classroom Management and coauthor of Practitioner’s Guide to Curriculum-Based Evaluation.

Jenny Scala is a senior researcher for the American Institutes for Research (AIR). She participates in multiple projects using her expertise in using data to inform instructional decisionmaking. Scala's technical assistance includes creating new strategies for supporting the implementation of early warning intervention and monitoring systems to identify and support at-risk students at the state, district, and school levels.

Featured practitioners

Shawn Hendrickson is the principal at Mission Middle and High School in St. Ignatius, Montana—located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Heidi Mathie Mucha is an associate instructor of special education at the University of Utah and an evaluator of a statewide grant focused on multi-tiered systems of support.


The Learning Series on Early Warning Systems is a coordinated set of technical assistance activities conducted by the Institute of Education Sciences' Regional Educational Laboratory Program. A list of events, tools, and other resources that are part of the REL EWS Learning Series can be found on the Institute of Education Sciences' website.