The Role of an Early Warning System to Support Freshmen: An Action Research Study
Watson, Wendy Lynn
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The purpose of this action research study was to examine the role of an early warning system as a technological tool used by administrators to support high school freshmen. The research questions guiding this study were: (a) What are the perceptions of high school administrators regarding the transition processes occurring for freshmen? (b) How is the early warning system used to support students? and (c) In what ways does an early warning system inform the intervention and support practices for transition freshmen? Qualitative methods included transcribed data from individual interviews, fieldnotes of observations, archived and artifact data, and a focus group meeting of high school administrators. Findings indicated that administrators support the transition of freshmen from middle to high school through events and programs to meet the procedural and academic needs of freshmen with limited attention paid towards meeting the social needs. The early warning system was used to primarily support freshman academic needs and somewhat support social needs through prevention and intervention programs. Conclusions and implications drawn from the study are that (a) transition supports should be focused on meeting the procedural, academic, and social needs of freshmen, (b) early warning systems are a useful tool to identify struggling freshmen for prevention and intervention supports, (c) high school staff are not adequately trained on freshman transition, (d) high school staff are not adequately trained on early warning systems considering technology use, data interpretation, and predictive analytics, and (e) adequate funding is needed to support freshmen, transition programs and teacher training.