PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Through the Early Warning Response System (EWRS), United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) and the Philadelphia Education Fund (Ed Fund) are proving to help thousands of students stay on track to high school graduation by intervening during critical middle school years.
Research conducted by the Ed Fund and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) shows that students at risk of dropping out can be identified as early as sixth grade. Students in grades 6 through 8 struggling with one of more of these three Early Warning Indicators (EWIs)– 1) low attendance (less than 80 percent), 2) poor behavior (three or more negative behavior marks), and 3) course failure in math or English – have a 15 percent chance of graduating high school.
"Students who graduate high school ready for college and career position themselves for work that pays a family-sustaining wage, setting them on the path to success. Unfortunately, the more than 10,000 children in our region who drop out each year are at a significant disadvantage because they earn less money, tap into more government services and face more health problems than those who graduate," says Kevin Dow, senior vice president, Impact and Innovation, UWGPSNJ. "Together with the Ed Fund, we're working to ensure more of our children stay on track to graduation and continue on to a bright and productive future."
During the first year of the EWRS partnership, UWGPSNJ and the Ed Fund worked with a cohort of 12 underserved schools in the School District of Philadelphia – home to nearly 2,000 students in grades 6 through 8. Together, they provided training, tools and support for administrators and teachers to help match students at risk of dropping out with the existing school resources they need most –such as tutoring, mentoring and counseling— and worked with local nonprofits to fill any gaps in the available school-based services. Results from the 2013-14 school year showed progress in participating students' academic success:
- Attendance: 42 percent of students with attendance issues in the beginning of the school year are now attending school more than 80 percent of the time
- Behavior: 75 percent of students identified with behavior issues (suspensions) during the 2012-2013 school year ended the 2013-2014 school year no longer exhibiting these behavior issues
- English: 82 percent of students struggling or failing in English in the beginning of the school year are now becoming academically successful with a C or better
- Math: 89 percent of students struggling or failing in math in the beginning of the school year are now becoming academically successful with a C or better
"All young people deserve the opportunity to benefit from a quality education. The research we've done with JHU on Early Warning Indicators is a critical step in addressing the issue of students dropping out. Through United Way's Impact Fund, we are able to expand our reach and improve academic success for thousands more students in our region," says Darren Spielman, president and CEO, Ed Fund.
The EWRS model is flexible enough to fit a diverse set of school needs and will result in the schools reducing the number of off-track students, consequently increasing the number of students that are on-track to graduation. In year two, there are plans to expand this work to six additional schools in the region, bringing the total number of schools served to 18.
For more information on UWGPSNJ's cradle-to-career education agenda, visit www.UnitedForImpact.org/education. For more information on the Ed Fund's work to improve the quality of public education in Philadelphia, visit www.philaedfund.org.
About United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey
United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, serving communities in Pennsylvania's Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, and New Jersey's Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May and Cumberland counties, is part of a national network of more than 1,300 locally governed organizations that work to create lasting positive changes in communities and in people's lives. United Way engages the community to identify the underlying causes of the most significant local issues, develops strategies and pulls together financial and human resources to address them, and measures the results. United Way is advancing the common good in Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey by positively impacting the lives of people throughout the region in the areas of education, income, and health. For more information about United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey visit www.UnitedForImpact.org.
About the Philadelphia Education Fund www.philaedfund.org.
The Philadelphia Education Fund (Ed Fund) is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of public education in Philadelphia. For nearly 30 years, the Ed Fund has worked to create opportunities for all young people through education, by developing and supporting great teachers and building the resources students need to succeed through and after high school. The job of educating Philadelphia's youth is too big for any one institution. As a trusted intermediary, the Ed Fund works with partners across sectors to grow impact for all Philadelphia's children. The Ed Fund supports more than 16,000 students and 1,000 teachers in schools across Philadelphia, and grants one million dollars per year in last dollar scholarships to low-income students attending college.
SOURCE United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey