The counselor-led small groups at BHS were developed to address student needs at each grade level. The small groups supported program goals in order to improve attendance, achievement, and behavior at Batavia High School.
The Positive Decisions Matter (PDM) group was developed to address the behavioral needs of our Freshmen students in support of program goal #1, to decrease the number of school days missed due to suspensions. In the Fall of 2015, the counselors examined 2014-2015 8th grade discipline records for our incoming Freshmen and compared this data with the number of suspensions for students in the Freshmen class within the first two months of the new school year. It became evident that there was a distinct group of six students who had a significant number of suspensions, as well as a track record of discipline referrals at the middle school who were in dire need of a counselor-led intervention to improve their behavior and subsequently decrease suspensions. These six students were selected to participate in the eight-week PDM group. The Freshmen counselor was selected to lead this group because of the rapport he had already established with his caseload and his ability to deliver lessons that are developmentally appropriate. The topics for the group were selected based upon the Freshmen results from the all-school survey, anecdotal data derived from individual meetings with each student, and perception data from a pre-survey delivered to the six identified students.
The results from the PDM group were instrumental in the development of new counselor-led small groups to be held during the 2016-2017 school year, including the development of a group solely for students struggling with truancy. Furthermore, the counselors reviewed the data from the PDM group with our SST team comprised of administrators, social workers, counselors, and school psychologists to develop new interventions in accordance with Illinois Senate Bill 100 that would create alternatives to suspensions in order to keep students in class learning and growing.
The “Rise and Shine” group was developed to support program goal #3, to increase the number of students taking AP, honors, and dual-credit classes. The group was created as a result of reviewing PowerSchool class enrollment data that showed a disproportionately low enrollment for minority students in advanced classes, especially at the Sophomore and Junior level. Therefore, the Sophomore counselor and one Junior/Senior counselor were selected to facilitate the “Rise and Shine” groups for their grade level. The minority students selected to participate in the groups were academically high performers who had never taken an advanced class. They were selected based upon a review of their grades, previous classes, and teacher recommendation. The group topics were selected based upon information gleaned during individual meetings with the students and catered to students taking advanced courses for the first time and the unique struggles that minority students face. The group results were so positive that the group is being held again during the 2016-2017 school year. Group results were also shared with teachers so that they would make definitive measures to encourage their minority students to enroll in advanced classes.
The “Learning, Exploring, And Planning (LEAP)” group was developed to support goal #4, to increase the number of Seniors committing to a post-secondary educational plan. The participants in the group were selected because they all indicated on the Senior survey that they did not have a plan to obtain more education after high school. After individual meetings with these students, we learned that 90% of the students had parents who never attended college and they all had similar reasons for not having a post-secondary plan, including not knowing what they wanted to do for a career and lack of financial resources. This information was used to create lesson topics for the group. We also had each student complete the Naviance cluster finder where we learned the career clusters that matched the students’ interests and personal qualities. Since manufacturing, health sciences, and architecture and construction were the highest ranked careers clusters, we selected lesson topics and guest speakers from each of these industries that also had post-secondary educational opportunities for three of the group lessons. Since the LEAP group was for Senior students, two of the Junior/Senior counselors were selected to facilitate the group to ensure it was grade-level appropriate and comprehensive in scope. Since 14 of the 16 group members did indeed indicate that that have a post-secondary educational plan on their Senior exit survey in May, the group is being held again during the 2016-2017 school year.