Closing the Gap Narrative
According to the data from the previous school year the ELL student population represents 5% of Parkview’s total enrollment; however, they represent 39% of the dropout rate. The counselors believe this is an overrepresentation of a targeted group. Therefore, the counselors decided to make it a program (closing the gap) goal to not only lower the dropout rate but to put forth extra interventions to lower the ELL student dropout rate. The two counselors who delivered the interventions to address this goal used this research for determining the best interventions. A webinar was viewed from the Georgia Department of Education titled: “Supporting Your English Learners” which included detailed information regarding supporting students in the academic, social/emotional and college/career areas. The webinar discussed several strategies including: speaking slower, having key points written, and doing many process checks throughout lessons. This webinar also included information for welcoming ELL parents into the classroom and a detailed small group outline. The counselors also used research from the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, specifically to gain a deeper understanding of the reasons students drop out and effective strategies to help students stay in school.
Upon review of the ELL student dropout data 45% were formerly monitored students (received services in the past but have exited the program), 55% were directly served (currently received services). Since it can be difficult to determine who is going to drop out, the counselors decided to target all students who are being directly served by the ESOL program. The intervention the counselors used to address the directly served student was a four part core curriculum unit done in the English ESOL II, ESOL I, Language Development I and IV classes. Topics for each lesson included: Part 1: Parkview at a Glance, Part 2: “What are Your Course Options?”, Part 3: Graduation Plan (Diploma Options), Part 4: College & Career Resource Center Presentation and “Future Plans- Preparing for the Next Step.” During the last session, a handout was given to students by the presenting counselors on the benefits of completing high school.
In order to address the formally monitored students the counselors also held a small group for high risk students (those with low course performance, high discipline marks, and missing six or more school days). The group included five sessions: Session 1: Purpose of the Group, Rules, Outline; Session 2: Organization and Time Management Skills; Session 3: Appropriate Classroom Behavior; Session 4: Study and Test Taking Skills; and Session 5: Conclusion and Future Plans- visit to College and Career Center. Individual counseling was also done for any students who were considering dropping out with their assigned counselor. There were 56 students who attended the core curriculum lessons, 8 who participated in small group, and 6 who received individual counseling.
Unfortunately we did not meet this goal as 37% of dropouts were served by the ESOL program a 5 % reduction from the previous school year. However, when examining the dropout rate data it is apparent that the core curriculum unit intervention was successful as 100% of directly served students are still in school. The counselors do believe that we could have had an even greater impact with the directly served students and the small group of formerly monitored students if we began the interventions earlier. Counselors also decided it would be beneficial to have a welcome packet for new students who will be in the ESOL program that explains high school and the academic resources on campus as well as the impact of graduating high school.
Upon reflection the counselors believe they may have covered too many topics in the time provided. Session 2-5 covered information that could have lasted for two sessions each instead of including it all into one session. There could have been more time for discussion and reflection. Considering the ABC data analysis (an online tool used by the school which keeps track of individual student attendance, behavior incidence and course performance), had the counselors spent more time on the attendance and appropriate behavior topics, there could have been a greater impact on those areas. The sessions did seem to help improve the overall course performance of each student implying that those sessions’ interventions seemed to be effective.