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A Look at the Early Alert System. A. Craig Dixon Madisonville Community College http://www.madisonville.kctcs.edu/facstaf/cdixon/ New Horizons Teaching and Learning Conference. Motivation.

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A look at the early alert system l.jpg

A Look at theEarly Alert System

A. Craig Dixon

Madisonville Community College


New Horizons Teaching and Learning Conference

Motivation l.jpg

  • Research consistently shows that early alert programs increase student success rates through retention, higher GPA, and credentials earned.

  • Furthermore, success during the freshman year has been shown to correlate with increased success over the course of the student’s entire academic career.

    • This amplifies the community college’s responsibility to the student and community.

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  • Develop strategies to enhance student success through:

    • Documenting student concerns at specific intervals throughout the term

    • Notifying appropriate support services efficiently

    • Intervening in time to help the student effectively address concerns

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Desired outcomes of an early-alert system

  • Increase course completion rates

  • Increase student retention (fall to fall semesters)

  • Increase success based on GPA

  • Increase number of transfer students

  • Increase number of graduates

  • Increase success of students in subsequent courses

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Checkpoint 1: Advising

  • Assess student needs.

  • Require placement testing.

  • Ensure appropriate course placement through effective advising.

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Early Alert Web Form

  • Checkpoints 2 through 5 rely on a web form.

    • Available year-round

    • Composed of checkboxes with comment sections

    • Creates a uniform reporting process fulfilling the needs of all departments

    • Delivers information to appropriate support services in a timely manner

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Using the Web Form: Step 1

  • Faculty access the Early Alert form and report concerns observed. (Excessive absence/tardiness, incomplete or poorly completed assignments, poor test performance, non-academic distractions, etc.)

    • Although many individuals play a crucial role, the most important factor in the success of the Early Alert system is faculty and their utilization of the process.

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Using the Web Form: Step 2

  • The system generates an email a copy of the submitted information to key student support personnel.

    • Learning Center (tutoring and computing services, study skills, etc.)

    • Counseling Center

    • Financial Aid (for return to Title IV)

    • Disability resources

    • Career pathways (Nursing and Allied Health student services)

    • TRIO Student Support Services (midterm reporting)

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Using the Web Form: Step 3

  • The various student support services respond according to a pre-defined action plan.

  • Action steps may include:

    • Email

    • Telephone contact

    • Postal mail

    • In-person follow-up

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The Process Illustrated


Early Alert System



Financial Aid







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Checkpoint 2: 1st Week of Class

  • Documents class attendance for return to Title IV reporting

  • Helps clarify student schedules

  • Allows early referrals to Disability Resources

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Checkpoint 3: Three Week Report

  • Allows early intervention before most classes administer the first exam

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Checkpoint 4: Mid Term Report

  • Used by TRIO Student Support Services for reporting and intervention

  • Indicates to the student that they may need to re-evaluate their present success in the course and suggest alternative resources or courses of action

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Checkpoint 5: Ongoing

  • The web form provides reporting at any point during the semester, allowing the instructor to document an attempt to intervene on behalf of the student

  • Additionally, the Counseling Center periodically distributes information regarding available services and resources throughout the semester

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Checkpoint 6: End of Semester

  • Analyze term grades to identify students who:

    • Performed poorly in a single class

      • These students may be experiencing difficulty in a particular discipline and can be referred to appropriate services.

    • Performed poorly overall during the term

      • These students may have poor academic habits or have experienced non-academic distractions during the term.

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  • Increased student awareness of support services

  • Streamlined reporting processes

  • Indicated to the student that the college is concerned about their success

  • Made the student accountable for his or her own success

  • Coordinated the delivery of a variety of student services

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Evaluation and Improvement

  • Solicit faculty feedback on success of initiative

  • Monitor usage of the system

  • Provide professional development focused on improving awareness of the process and related student support services

  • Evaluate and implement proposed improvements.