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Dropout Prevention Research Alliance

Research Alliance Quicktabs

Research alliances connect practitioners, researchers, and policymakers around regional education challenges. Alliances are tasked with addressing these challenges through regional research, technical assistance, and dissemination projects. Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest supports eight alliances.

Emily Loney

Alliance Lead
Emily Loney, Researcher at AIR
View Bio

Please connect with us for more information about the alliance or to get involved.

Alliance GoalsAlliance Goals

This alliance focuses on increasing graduation rates and on reducing persistent disparities in graduation and dropout rates among student subgroups. The short-term goals of the Dropout Prevention Research Alliance are to identify locally valid predictors of student dropout in a set of pilot districts and build and implement comprehensive early warning systems based on those indicators. Proposed work will serve its longer term goal of scaling the system in ways that allow evaluation of the efficacy of well-implemented early warning indicator systems. This study is occurring in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

Guiding Research QuestionsGuiding Research Questions

What data can be used by states, districts, and schools to identify students at risk and allocate resources in order to improve graduation rates and reduce dropout rates?


Emily Loney

Alliance Lead
Emily Loney, Researcher at AIR
View Bio

Please connect with us for more information about the alliance or to get involved.

Alliance MembersAlliance Members

Mary Barrie, Ed.D., Minnesota Department of Education

Teresa Brown, Indiana Department of Education

Thomas Cooley, Iowa Department of Education

Steve Crew, Iowa Department of Education

Walter DeBoer, Grand Rapids Public Schools

Carl Frederick, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

John Gimpl, Minnesota Department of Education

Laurie Kruszynski, Toledo Public Schools

Harold Sweeney, Boone-Winnebago Regional Office of Education

Craig Wethington, Minnesota Department of Education

Sue Zake, Ph.D., Ohio Department of Education


Alliance MembersAlliance Researchers

Sonica Dhillon, Researcher at AIR

Ann-Marie Faria, Ph.D., Principal Researcher at AIR

Amy Proger, Ph.D., Researcher at AIR


Technical Assistance ProjectsTechnical Assistance Projects Develop systems, surveys, and other tools to help stakeholders apply data to their work

Implementing Early Warning Systems in Three Districts in Ohio (2012–13)

Goal: To expand the capacity of our partnering districts and other districts to implement and apply early warning indicator systems.


  • Helped three districts compile data into an existing research-based tool.
  • Helped districts apply the tool.
  • Documented and reported on the implementation process.
  • Created a comprehensive, locally contextualized implementation guide that is being used by schools participating in a REL Midwest research study.

Early Warning System Implementation in Minnesota and Wisconsin: An Early Investigation (2015–16)

Goal: To understand how school and district personnel are using their state-provided early warning system data and the perceived barriers to effectively use this information in local contexts.


  • Provide technical assistance with the development of a survey of schools’ progress toward implementing the Minnesota Early Indicator and Response System or the Wisconsin Dropout Early Warning System.
  • Analyze and co-interpret the survey results with Minnesota and Wisconsin.
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing between states and contribute to the development of a procedural plan for how to use knowledge gained from survey results.


Research ProjectsResearch Projects Collect and analyze data and summarize information for dissemination

Local Validation of Graduation Indicators in Three Ohio Districts (2012–14)

Goal: To ensure that each local early warning system is accurate and efficient in identifying students at increased risk of dropping out of high school.


  • Conducted analyses using historical student-level data from three Ohio districts to validate student-level indicators of risk of students not graduating.
  • Created a report of the findings.

On-Time Graduation Project (2013–16)

Goal: Despite the increasingly widespread implementation of early warning systems, no rigorous studies have tested the impact of using these systems to improve student outcomes, such as staying in school, progressing in school, and the probability of graduating. To address this gap, this project will provide the first rigorous test of the impact on students and schools of access to the early warning and intervention monitoring system (EWIMS).

  • Conduct a multiyear, randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of EWIMS in schools that have access to an early warning system versus those that are interested in an early warning system but are not yet using one.
  • Provide access to EWIMS (including the early warning tool, a suite of professional development, and the seven-step EWIMS data review process) to a sample of 72 schools across Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.
  • Document the impact of access to EWIMS on student outcomes, including student risk status for dropout, scores on graduation tests, persistence and progress in school, and the likelihood of on-time graduation.
  • Document the impact of access to EWIMS on school outcomes, including their data-use culture and how schools allocate dropout prevention interventions for students.