Early Alert


The Early Alert system, funded by a Title III grant, was originally piloted in Spring 2012 with a cohort of 200 students and has expanded to a college-wide availability in Summer 2013.  The system is used to identify both students who are at-risk of failure and those who are doing well through a series of automated gradebook-based notices, faculty surveys, and manual any-time notices.  In the summer of 2014, Columbus State completed integration of the Early Alert system with the Student Information System to further enhance and customize interventions to meet student needs.  Learning organizations and cohorts are aligned with the Early Alert system to help targeted at risk students access early intervention, intrusive advising, and increase peer and faculty engagement.  Columbus State has also implemented the connect module of early alert to provide advisors and other support staff with information regarding the student academic progress (historical and just-in-time) and use of college resources.  Students use the system to schedule interventions upon receiving a notice.  During the  year, Early Alert continued to expand, success rates for those courses actively using the system continued to climb, and withdraw rates decline.  During Autumn 2015, tracking items for students were traced to 2,572 (approximately 74% of sections at the college), with 23,166 (unduplicated) of the 25,144 (unduplicated, census day) students enrolled in courses using early alert.  Since its pilot in Autunn 2012 course success rates of courses in the early alert system climbed from 62.74% to 69.27% in Autumn 2015.  Likewise, withdrawal rates fell from 13.62% in the Autumn 2012 pilot to 7.95% in Autumn 2015.  In Spring 2016, using the intervention scheduling tool (connect) more than 21,000 meetings were tracked using the system.  By Autumn 2016, all students will have a career success plan in place in the system, with intervention strategies tied to task completion, and in 2016-2018, Columbus State will work to integrate the system with specific degree pathways to track and notify students of progress toward their degrees.  


2017 Update

Starfish continued to operate with expanded usage across faculty, staff, and cohorts triggering 79,982 flags and kudos regarding student performance in courses during the autumn 2016/spring 2017 semester.  Starfish also tracked 82,207 meetings between students and campus services and support staff from 32 departments.

In addition, expanded efforts to enhance the "high tech/high touch" initiative established through the Office of Student Academic Success, the office used Peer Success Liaisons and Retention Specialists to reach out to 6,175 duplicated students during Autumn 2016 and Spring 2017 as a second level of intervention based upon tracking items a student received in the early alert system.  Many changes took place for early alert this last academic year. First, the system was rebranded from FOCUS to Starfish to avoid confusion with the FOCUS2 Career Assessment tool.  In addition, Student Academic Success created a training manual for system set up and department customization and two additional Retention Specialists joined the team: one who solely supports College Credit Plus students, and the other who supports incoming students to 30 credit hours. This has allowed for more intrusive follow up with students who have alerts.

Intervention strategies have changed due to increase support and case management. Previously, Student Academic Success followed up with students who received three or more flags. This had some students receiving help when it was almost too late in the semester. Beginning Spring 2017, the office follows up on a series of intervention points:

  • Academic warning and probation
  • 3 or more repeated courses or repeating COLS
  • Non-attendance alerts
  • 2 or more academic performance or attendance alerts
  • Concern for course completion alerts
  • Tutoring referrals
  • Math-1099 2 or more non-participation grades
  • 3 or 6 more active notices

In addition, Career Services, through a regulatory requirement, put forth a career plan for all students using the success plans in the Starfish system to communicate, and track student completion of the plans.  The Student Academic Success office continued to expand its internal and external partnerships to put into place expanded interventions to support students.  Those additional partnerships include:

  • Academic Departments
  • Support Staff Departments
  • Finance Management
  • Career Services
  • Real Estate Management
  • Columbus Writing Center
  • Placement Testing
  • High school districts and high school guidance counselors

For the 2017/18 year, the team will work to develop a more holistic systematized approach to system usage through processes that include, but aren't limited to postive behavioral messaging and growth mindset, and a response to intervention process.

Longitudinal data for use of early alert continues to indicate increased course success and decreased course withdraw rates.



ID 16864

To contact this college about this intervention, take note of the ID above, ID #16864, and then fill out the intervention contact request form

Please note that for security purposes, contact information can only be provided to known contacts at active Achieving the Dream institutions.

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