Sope Creek Closing-the-Gap Results Report Narrative:
Our Closing-the-Gap goal is aligned with our school and district priorities. In order to successfully complete an academic year, fifth grade students must meet standards in reading and math, as documented by their report card grades. Research shows that interventions addressing school success behaviors increase student achievement (Bleuer, J., Palomares, S., & Waltz, G.R. 1993. "Activities for Counseling Underachievers"; Harvey, V.S. & Chickie-Wolfe, L. (2007). "Fostering Independent Learning: Practical Strategies to Promote Student Success". The 11 students that we identified were not meeting these standards in one or more subjects, and were receiving failing grades as well as low marks in the work/study habits section of their report cards. Interventions were planned to address improving work study habits as a means to improve grades in order to close the gap between the students who were failing and those who were receiving passing grades.
After collaborating with school stakeholders, we planned 9 weekly 30 minute small group sessions using research-based best practices in the areas of effective school, study, and test-taking behaviors. Our objective was to provide emotional and behavioral support with a focus on school success to the 11 identified students. Our goal was to close the gap by increasing the GPAs of these students by 20%, as well as increasing the number of our target group who achieved a satisfactory grade (“S”) in work/study habits on their third 9-week report cards by 20%.
This small group intervention was based on the ASCA domains, mindsets and behaviors which supported the desired student outcomes. Curriculum aligned with the Academic, Career, and Social/Emotional domains of the ASCA Comprehensive Model, and was planned to be developmentally appropriate. Because we wanted to improve grades and work/study habits, group sessions included research based instruction (cited above) in: school success behaviors and attitudes, listening, tips for becoming organized at home and school, understanding learning styles, successful homework practices, creating a Study Buddy container for supplies, understanding test anxiety, coping with anxiety, and test-taking skills .
A review of process, perception, and achievement/achievement-related post data indicates that this intervention led to many improvements. An examination of the Closing the Gap Results Report which accompanies this section did not reveal a positive change in student beliefs, but knowledge, and skills did increase. The perception data summary is included as a separate uploaded document.
The results of this closing the gap project indicate improvement in student GPAs and work/study habits. While the students began the project with very positive attitudes as measured by the perception data, several appeared to become discouraged during the course of the project. We did, however, see improvement in several areas of knowledge and skills. Attitudes actually decreased slightly. It should be noted that several students were on Tier 3 and referred for psychoeducational testing during this time period. Because of that, we were pleased to see the growth in GPAs by 14%. There was a greater improvement in work/study habits (50%) indicating carry over into the classroom subsequent to group interventions .
Our results indicated that at-risk students benefit from a combined approach involving a closing the gap intervention such as this, the RTI (Response to Intervention) process, and academic support from other staff members (tutoring). We will continue to provide similar interventions to academically at-risk students in the future, extending the intervention to include fourth graders.