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What are the Uses and Benefits of the WARNS?

For counselors, case managers, and other individuals working with at-risk youth, the WARNS Report provides a way to quickly gather and synthesize important information about a youth’s developmental experiences and current functioning. It is best used during the initial stages of engagement with the youth to better understand his or her specific risks and needs. The report is a way to facilitate and guide conversations, and develop a successful intervention plan.  Counselors have reported that youth appreciate knowing how they score in each domain and often volunteer information that they would not have provided under a normal conversation with a school official.

Needs Assessment and Treatment Planning

The WARNS should not be used for diagnostic purposes or as the sole source of information in treatment planning, but instead as one of the several strategies available to professionals to assist in identifying the past and current challenges that may be negatively affecting school engagement and attendance.

The WARNS is uniquely designed to allow professionals to prioritize services for those youth most at-risk for school failure, including dropout. Scores on the six need scales can be used to match youth to targeted interventions. For example, less intense, group-level interventions may not be effective with high-risk students but may be beneficial for those with moderate levels of need.

As stated in the User Agreement, the WARNS may only be used in the best interest of the youth. It may not be used when considering or determining any punitive sanctions or to place students into certain educational classrooms or with a population of youth with similar results.

If a given site is interested in-the-aggregate results for a group of individuals, Washington State University can provide the site administrator with the individual-level data in Excel or SPSS format for further analysis. Group reports may be of interest for specific populations (e.g., an incoming freshman, court-petitioned truants, treatment participants), or different groups of youth can be compared within a population (e.g., truants and non-truants; boys and girls; 9th, 10th, and 11th graders). In the future, we are planning to offer reporting features with our online dynamic reporting and user management system.

Individual Progress Monitoring or Program Evaluation

Individual service providers and stakeholders who are interested in whether or not their efforts were successful in bringing about meaningful change in the lives of youth may want to administer the WARNS both before and after an intervention. The WARNS was designed to measure recent changes in the perceptions and experiences of adolescents. All items on the six Needs Scales and several additional items inquire about youths’ functioning during the past two months. Therefore, individuals and groups can be assessed both before and after most interventions to help determine if youth have improved in critical areas of development. Service providers or stakeholders interested in program evaluation are encouraged to contact the Learning and Performance Research Center at Washington State University for help with research design and other issues necessary to a valid program evaluation.

Additional Resources:

Click here to download the Responsibilities of Users of Standardized Tests (RUST)