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An Early Warning Q&A with Russell County Schools Cindy Damron, Ed.S., Director of Pupil Personnel

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• September 18, 2023

The Infinite Campus Analytics Suite provides insight into a student’s well-being, and our Early Warning tool helps inform stakeholders of each student’s likelihood of completing high school and/or progressing to the next grade level. We sat down with Russell County Schools Director of Pupil Personnel Cindy Damron to talk about how she uses Early Warning with the students in her district.

What were some challenges your district was facing before the Campus Early Warning feature became available?
Prior to Campus Early Warning we were using the persistence graduation tool. When only monitoring grades, behavior, and attendance, we were missing students at risk. These were students who had good grades, behavior, and decent attendance, but they were still in crisis mode from lack of support or dealing with serious family issues. When the Early Warning tool came along and incorporated all student variables (student engagement, household demographics, parent involvement, etc.), it was huge for us. It flags students who might be in a difficult situation, yet they’re still hanging on with good grades, behavior, and attendance. We are now able to locate these students and put support in place.

Once you identify students at risk, what comes next? How are your schools putting the data to use?
We conduct three to four formal dropout prevention meetings a year. We start by looking at our seniors. Now that we’ve used this tool for about five years, there are very few kids at that point that we haven’t already done some type of intervention for. After seniors, we continue to move through the grades. When we get up from our meetings, we have thoroughly reviewed, discussed, and put a plan in place for every student individually.

How do you approach students that need intervention?
It really varies based on the student. We typically start with a one-on-one conversation to share what our team noticed and explain how we can help. After that, it may be an appointment with our mental health specialist or putting counseling in place to help with some behavior and/or stability challenges.

Any big successes related to supporting students that are at risk?
Yes! Just this year we flagged a junior who was getting ready to turn 18 in February. This student was an English Learner (EL) that acclimated well. However, this student was lacking help at home. Parents would leave early in the morning for work and wouldn’t get home until after school…sometimes unaware their child was not attending school. When this student was flagged, we looked at the data, and put a good plan in place. I’m happy to say I just got an email this week saying the student is completely caught up. If the student wasn’t flagged when they were, it would have left us with little hope to talk the student into staying after they turned 18.