When I met with our leadership team to create our action steps for our school improvement plan, we collectively decided that it would be the most beneficial for me to address standardized testing academic achievement barriers in small group counseling with third to fifth grade students. While consulting with my colleagues, the most effective avenue for me to help improve my students’ academic achievement would be to mitigate barriers, such as test anxiety and self-esteem. I then began to analyze the data from the previous school year’s standardized testing results to identify students who had scored a level two on our reading End of Grade (EOG) test. Once I targeted these specific students, I met with each of their teachers to hone in on the children whose success may be barred by test anxiety or lack of confidence. As I created the finalized list of students, I researched various lesson topics to address students’ testing self-esteem and anxiety. Most of the group topics I chose were to help students to create a testing plan to reinforce specific testing strategies they would use during a testing session (i.e. anxiety-reducing coping strategies, self-esteem confidence boosters).
At the conclusion of the test anxiety small group sessions, I began to disaggregate the perception and outcome data results to help inform future decisions for my counseling program. After analyzing the pre and post assessment perception data from my groups, I observed an overall positive increase in confidence and decrease in anxiety in the majority of the students. However, my outcome data was unfortunately not reflective of the perception data. More than fifty percent of the students scored a level two on the reading End of Grade test, which is not passing. However, the third grade students who reported feeling confident about the standardized tests had a slightly higher percent of students' with passing scores. After reflecting on the outcome data, I have realized that test anxiety is only one piece of the puzzle to help students improve their academic achievement. Unfortunately the students who predominantly did not pass the End of Grade reading test also had demonstrated difficulties in organization, time management, and positive learning attitudes throughout the school year. In planning for this academic year, I plan to also conduct a small counseling group to target these students to teach, practice, and reinforce mindsets and behaviors to improve academic work habits earlier in the year. Based on research I have conducted, implementing a small group focusing on mindfulness will also benefit these students and improve their standardized testing scores and academic work habits. I will continue to work closely with these students to ensure there are not any external factors that are creating additional barriers to their learning.
Group Name: Test Success Groups
Goal: By June 2016, targeted students who received a level 2 on the 2014-2015 reading EOG and also experience test anxiety will meet growth target on the Reading EOG during the 2015-2016 school year.
Target Group: Students who received a level 2 on the reading EOG due to test anxiety.
Data Used to Identify Students: 2014-2015 EOG data, teacher/parent/counselor referral.
Outline of Group Sessions Delivered: Session 1: Students will take pre assessment. Read two examples and identify test preparation strategies. Complete first section of test plan. Session 2: Play charades to learn test anxiety calm-down strategies. Fill out Nervous Ned calm down sheet with favorite strategies. Finish section 2 of test plan. Session 3: Discuss test taking stress relieving strategies. Students create Wordle with top 3-5 choices. Session 4: Play True/False game addressing common misconceptions about standardized testing. Review calming strategies from previous counseling sessions. Session 5: Review previous sessions. Complete post survey and EOG fortune tellers. Finish Test plans.
Process Data (Number of students affected): 54 students
Perception Data (Surveys or assessments used): During the test anxiety group, I had 20 third grade students, 19 fourth grade students, and 14 fifth grade students. The pre assessment measured how confident they felt about the Math and ELA EOG, how relaxed they felt about the Math and ELA EOG, and a scale number of their level of anxiety (10 being the most anxious).
When looking at the third grade pre assessment data, only 4 students (20%) felt confident for the reading EOG and 12 students for the Math EOG (60%). In regards to feeling relaxed, only 6 students (30%) reported that for the reading EOG where as 13 students (65%) felt relaxed for the math EOG. On a scale of 1-10, the students scored an average of 4.7 for their level of anxiety for the EOGs. After analyzing the post assessment data, 15 students (75%) reported feeling confident for the reading EOG (a 55% increase) and 18 students (90%) felt confident for the math EOG (a 30% increase). In regards to relaxation, 12 students (60%) for ELA (a 30% increase) and 17 students (85%) for the math EOG (a 20% increase). For their level of anxiety, the student average was 4.25 (which is a decrease of 9.5%).
When looking at the fourth grade pre assessment data, 13 students (65%) felt confident for the reading EOG and 11 students for the Math EOG (58%). In regards to feeling relaxed, only 9 students (47%) reported that for the reading EOG and math EOG. On a scale of 1-10, the students scored an average of 4.37 for their level of anxiety for the EOGs. After analyzing the post assessment data, 17 students (89%) reported feeling confident for the reading EOG (a 14% increase) and 16 students (84%) felt confident for the math EOG (a 6% decrease). In regards to feeling relaxed, 17 students (89%) felt that way for reading EOGs(a 29% increase) and 14 students (74%) reported feeling relaxed for the math EOG (a 11% decrease). For their level of anxiety, the student average was 4.25 (which is a decrease of 9.5%).
When looking at the fifth grade pre assessment data, 10 students (71%) felt confident for the reading EOG and 12 students for the Math EOG (86%). In regards to feeling relaxed, only 6 students (43%) reported that for the reading EOG and only 11 students (79%) reported it for the math EOG. On a scale of 1-10, the students scored an average of 5.2 for their level of anxiety for the EOGs. After analyzing the post assessment data, 12 students (86%) reported feeling confident for the reading EOG (a 15% increase) and 13 students (93%) felt confident for the math EOG (a 7% increase). In regards to feeling relaxed, 9 students (64%) felt that way for reading EOGs(a 31% increase) and 12 students (86%) reported feeling relaxed for the math EOG (a 7% increase). For their level of anxiety, the student average was 4.8 (which is a decrease of 8%).
For all three grade levels combined, an average of 83% of students felt confident for the reading EOG and 89% felt confident for the math EOG (compared to 53% reading and 68% for math in the pre assessment). In addition, an average of 71% felt relaxed for the reading EOG and 82% for the math (compared to 40% reading and 64% for math in the pre assessment). Finally the students on average rated their anxiety level as 4.42 (as compared to an average of 4.75 in the pre assessment).
Outcome Data (Achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data): Unfortunately our EOG data from our 5th grade students and our 2 students who moved to another school was not provided to us. However, I was able to separate the data based on grade levels. When analyzing our 3rd grade students' data, out of 20 students, 50% of the students (10 students) made a level 3 or higher on the reading EOG. Conversely, 50% of the students (10 students) made a 2 or lower on the reading EOG. In regards to 18 fourth grade students, 44% of students (8 students) scored a 3 or higher on the reading EOG. Unfortunately 56% of the students (10 students) scored a level 2 or lower on the reading EOG. While looking at the data overall, out of 38 total students, 18 students (47%) scored a level 3 or higher on the reading EOG; while 20 students (53%) scored a level 2 or lower.
Implications: Based on the data analysis, overall most the students made improvements in their level of confidence, relaxation, and anxiety level prior to EOG testing. After closely examining the data, it was clear that most of the students felt less confident and relaxed for the reading EOG than the math EOG. These findings have been typically reflective in our EOG results the last few years that has shown a trend of our students performing better in math than in reading. In looking forward to next year, it may be helpful as a counseling program and school community to provide incentives for boosting reading self esteem (i.e. a Read and Feed program, school wide contests, etc.).
After receiving the EOG data back from the 2014-2015 school year, it is clear that the fourth grade students' EOG data is correlated with the self-confidence post assessment data I gathered. Based on the pre and post assessment data for third grade, it is apparent that our students who felt more confident and relaxed performed better on the reading EOG.
In addition, I also noticed that the main grade level that did not show as much growth in the test anxiety group was fourth grade. Part of it may be attributed to the fact we finished their groups the days leading to the EOGs. However, I would like to start the EOG groups earlier this year so that I can utilize post assessment data to provide individual confidence boosting interventions for these students.