For the counselors at Wilder, small group topics are typically created based on need as identified from our student Needs Assessments, given to students during our introductory lessons in September. In addition to the needs assessments, requests from parents, administrators, and teachers also generate potential groups and group members.
This Test Busters Group was generated by teacher request. Around the end of February/beginning of March, one of the seventh grade teachers noticed that she had a group of students who were motivated academically, worked hard in class, and completed and turned in homework; however, these students were consistently scoring low on tests and quizzes despite the teacher believing they understood the material. In a discussion with the students about their grades, the teacher detected some level of anxiety among each student. The teacher quickly shared these discoveries with the two 7th grade counselors, Mrs. Hubler and Mrs. Rucker. They decided a group on test anxiety would be very beneficial, because it ties directly into our academic program goal: To increase the academic performance of students, the school counseling department will reduce the number of student failing a core content course by 20% from the end of semester one to the end of semester two. It is possible for students who are highly motivated, who complete class and homework, and who understand the material to fail a class due to test anxiety. At Wilder, teachers often weigh quiz and test grades higher than classwork and homework grades to emphasize their importance, so if a student is failing their tests and quizzes, they may be in danger of failing the class.
Since the two counselors serve different students on the seventh grade level, they each decided to work with the students on their own caseload because rapport and relationships have already been established. Mrs. Hubler also works with 6th grade students so she decided to reach out to the 6th grade teachers to see if they knew of any students who might be wrestling with test anxiety. They in fact did, so two 7th grade and one 6th grade Test Busters Groups were formed. The group plans and results report submitted for this RAMP application include materials and data from Mrs. Hubler’s two Test Busters Groups.
Mrs. Hubler also works with 8th grade students but chose not to include them in this group topic this year due to the timing of the group (March/April). The 8th grade students have an important state-wide writing test at the end of March and pulling them from instructional time, even though this is a very worthy topic that correlates to the big test, is not an option during the month of March. So due to scheduling issues they were not included this year. However, because of the success of the group with the 6th and 7th graders, Mrs. Hubler will plan to hold this group during the fall of next school year for all grade levels and will suggest to the other Wilder counselors to do the same. Not only will this alleviate some of the scheduling conflicts, it will also be very beneficial for students to receive these skills at the beginning of the year in order to utilize them throughout the entire school year.
Mrs. Hubler also plans to update her student Needs Assessment to include a question on test anxiety and will make this recommendation to the other Wilder counselors as well. The recommendations from the teachers were beneficial, but there were probably other students who would have benefited from this group who were not identified by the teachers. Allowing student to self-assess will help identify more potential group members.
Due to the fact that this group was identified as a need in the middle of the school year, it does not appear on the Small Group Action Plan.