Nearly two years since the COVID-19 pandemic first disrupted schooling across the U.S., a new partnership including several PAS learning community members aims to help schools identify and support the hundreds of thousands of students who’ve fallen off the path to high school graduation and postsecondary success.

The GRAD Partnership for Student Success is a collaboration between nine education organizations, including the Everyone Graduates Center, focused on scaling up the use of high-quality student success systems, also known as early warning or on-track systems, in schools throughout the country.

The launch of the GRAD Partnership comes amid growing signs of the pandemic’s educational impact on middle and high school students. After more than a decade of progress, high school graduation rates are down in many states, while course failure, chronic absenteeism, and incidents of misbehavior are up.

“It’s all just telling us that momentum has been broken in many places and we’ve really got to figure out how to get that back,” said Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center during a webinar launching the partnership. “We have to rethink and reshape and reengineer how we support our students.”

While the idea of early warning systems predates the pandemic, the last two years have magnified the need for schools to proactively monitor student progress and intervene as necessary with additional support, such as counseling or tutoring, as well as to identify ways that school practices, structures, and policies can be changed to keep all students on the path to adult success.

Early warning systems are based on research by the Everyone Graduates Center, the UChicago Consortium for School Research, and the American Institutes for Research, among others, showing the importance of the “ABC’s” as key student success indicators—attendance, behavior/social-emotional development, and course performance. By proactively monitoring the ABC’s for each student, these systems empower staff to step in when, for example, a 9th grade student misses several days of school or fails the first Algebra I test.

While a wide range of schools have successfully employed versions of early warning or on-track systems with some students, or have access to early warning indicators, such systems remain relatively new to routine school practice. The GRAD Partnership aims to partner with local communities to scale up high-quality, next-generation versions that build on a decade of learning and enable schools to progress monitor and support all students through high school graduation and beyond.

“We know we can do more when we work together,” said Angela Jerabek, founder and executive director of the BARR Center. “If we can work collectively as organizations that are all doing this work, we know the impact we can have is so much more than what we could have individually.”

The Partnership has identified four strategies to support and expand the use of student success systems, including:

  1. Building awareness, understanding, and advocacy around high-quality student success (on-track) systems.
  2. Creating tools, such as rubrics and self-assessments, to enable leaders to identify where schools and systems are in moving towards next-generation systems.
  3. Partnering with 30-50 key districts and 30-50 community organizations to scale student success systems.
  4. Establishing a national improvement network where those doing this work can share ideas, address common problems, and work towards establishing relevant credentialing and certifications.

A key component of the GRAD Partnership is working with local districts and organizations and providing the tools and technical assistance needed to launch and sustain high-quality student success systems.

“We want to make sure our work is focused with an emphasis on sustainability,” said Jenny Scala, principal researcher and practice area director for the American Institutes for Research. “So people really have the ability to grow local expertise for the long term of this, rather than just being someone who comes in, supports, and then leaves.”

The GRAD Partnership invites district and school leaders, teachers, TA providers, and community organizations to join in the work to ensure all students are on track to graduate ready for the future. To learn more about the GRAD Partnership and how you can participate, visit

The nine organizations launching the GRAD Partnership are the American Institutes for Research, BARR Center, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Everyone Graduates Center-JHU, National Center for Learning Disabilities, Network for College Success-UChicago, Rural Schools Collaborative, Schott Foundation for Public Education, and Talent Development Secondary.

Partnership for Student Success


Work with school districts, schools, community organizations, school leaders, teachers, students, and parents to make high quality student success systems typical, everyday school practice by improving existing systems and creating new ones.

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