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5/8/2014

First Lady Susan Corbett Highlights her “Opening Doors” Anti-Dropout Initiative with a Visit to Erie’s Roosevelt Middle School

News for Immediate Release

May 8, 2014

First Lady Susan Corbett Highlights her “Opening Doors” Anti-Dropout Initiative with a Visit to Erie’s Roosevelt Middle School

Erie – Pennsylvania First Lady Susan Corbett today visited Roosevelt Middle School in Erie to learn more about the school’s use of an Early Warning System (EWS) to identify students who are at risk of the dropping out. She will also hear about Erie School District’s Intervention Catalog (IC) that lists resources in the district and community that help keep at-risk students engaged in school and on track to graduate.

An EWS/IC are key components of Mrs. Corbett’s initiative “Opening Doors” which aims to increase the graduation rate in Pennsylvania by identifying middle school students at risk of dropping out of school and providing them appropriate interventions to keep them engaged.

The EWS is a secure, web-based system that looks at academic progress in English and Math, attendance and behavior. Research shows that having difficulty in even one of these areas during middle school significantly increases the chances that a student will drop out in high school.

The IC is an extensive list of school, government and community resources that can serve as interventions to keep these students engaged in school and on track to a diploma.

“The Early Warning System and Intervention Catalog are important and extremely useful new tools to help our educators find and support students who are at risk of dropping out before it is too late,” said Mrs. Corbett. “The Erie School District is helping the commonwealth refine the EWS/IC so it can be used by other districts in the future. This will help ensure our children who need it most, get the help they need to stay in school.”

Three school districts are part of the first phase of this “Opening Doors” tool. In addition to the Erie School District, the Albert Gallatin Area School District in Fayette County and the Harrisburg School District in Dauphin County are participating. The Lancaster School District in Lancaster County, which has its own EWS/IC, is advising.

“Erie is honored to have the opportunity to pilot this important state-wide initiative and we appreciate the First Lady’s commitment keeping Pennsylvania middle school students on track toward graduation.” said Dr. Jay Badams, superintendent of Erie’s Public Schools. “By utilizing the EWS, our educators will be able to focus primarily on providing assistance and interventions directly to at risk students, rather than spending valuable time collecting and analyzing data in order to simply identify those students in need of support.”

“While building administrators have always tracked student attendance, behavior and academic performance, the Early Warning System makes these indicators available to all staff who assist and support students in real-time,” said Teresa Szumigala, principal of Roosevelt Middle School. “Not only will this help us sooner identify students at risk of dropping out, it also provides us with an intervention catalog to guide students toward available district and community resources.”

The “Opening Doors” EWS/IC will be available to more Pennsylvania school districts in Fall 2014 and will eventually be available to all interested schools across the commonwealth.

The EWS/IC is offered to schools free of charge. It is being funded by federal and private dollars. Team Pennsylvania Foundation is also providing support for these efforts.

For more information on the “Opening Doors” initiative, visit www.pa.gov/Firstlady.

Media Contact:

Ashley Mostek, First Lady’s Office; 717-787-1965

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