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Reading List: On-Track Indicators

**Allensworth, E.M. & Easton, J.Q. (2007, July). What Matters for Staying On-Track and Graduating in Chicago Public High Schools: A Close Look at Course Grades, Failures, and Attendance in the Freshman Year. Chicago, IL: Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. Available at


This report details how success in high school coursework is strongly tied to graduation. The report shows that coursework success is affected more by what students do while in school than by their preparation for high school or their backgrounds. It provides evidence that teacher and school initiatives that address low achievement not only affect how students perform in their courses but also reduce dropout rates. The report discusses several freshman course performance indicators that lead to a successful, or not successful, freshman year. The report also highlights the importance of paying attention to school systems with high dropout rates, rather than just the lowest achieving students, because in low-performing schools even average students are more likely to drop out.


Heppen, J.B. & Therriault, S.B. (2008, July). Developing Early Warning Systems to Identify Potential High School Dropouts. Washington, DC: National High School Center. Available at


This brief describes an early warning system that uses readily accessible school-level data to identify high school freshmen at the highest srisk of dropping out. The main indicators used in this early warning system are attendance and course performance during the student’s first year of high school. The brief includes research on early warning indicators, step-by-step instructions for implementing school-level early warning systems, information regarding district-level systems, and an analysis of the state role in supporting the development and use of early warning systems.


**This document is considered a priority reading.