Maine West High School (2017)

Des Plaines, IL

Academic Achievement
Career Development
Character Education
College Readiness
Mental Health
Postsecondary Preparation

Closing the Gap

The closing the gap goal was originally chosen as a target goal during the 2012-2013 school year. At that time we had assessed data from the 2011-2012 school year. The intervention became a psychoeducational group titled Yes You Can, and has been run every year since, with modifications in curriculum made yearly based on perception data and participant feedback. Each year the data is the reevaluated, incorporating perception data from group participants as well as the school wide needs assessment (conducted annually), school discipline data, school attendance data and National Clearinghouse data to determine whether the gap still exists and if the group is an appropriate intervention to support the gap.

Originally the group was intended to support Hispanic and African American students who according to data at that time were matriculating to college at a significantly lesser rate than their peers. However, when reviewing all of the above pieces of data from the 2014-15 school year, disaggregated by gender, grade level, ethnicity and socioeconomic level, it was noted that low income students (those who qualify under free and reduced lunch program, FRL) who in many aspects academically matched their peers, were matriculating to college at a significantly lower rate. The 2014-15 National Clearinghouse data revealed that the following percentage of students matriculated to college: 81.69% of Caucasian , 68.75% of Hispanic, 62.50% of African American and 62.0% of FRL. There is also a high overlap and correlation in FRL students amongst the African American and Hispanic student population.

This gap, of FRL students was then broken down by GPA and those with a GPA of 2.0+, were invited to participate in the group 14 week psychoeducational group Yes You Can during the 2015-16 school year. The Yes You Can curriculum centers around career exploration, expectations for postsecondary planning, college myths and vocabulary, breaking down the college search and application process step by step and financial aid including understanding the true cost tuition, etc. These lessons are targeted to increase participants understanding of the process, provide them with the resources, increase their confidence in their ability to reach college and decrease their sense of overwhelmedness regarding college and most importantly help them navigate the financial barriers that limit them more than their peers.

This group also includes a field trip to experience a university firsthand. This group of junior, underrepresented students were given everything that we give our seniors in a short presentation senior year but in a small group setting with 4-5 other students at a time, over the course of 8 weeks that fostered open communication and dialogue around concerns, questions and feelings regarding postsecondary achievement particular to their struggles as low income students.

Perception data showed positive growth as it is perceived by the students themselves which we believe to be important. For example at the end of the group 94% of participants felt confident that they had the skills and resources needed to achieve their goals (a 12% increase), 63% were able to identify what EFC means in relation to financial aid (a 45% increase) and 40% were able to correctly demonstrate a skill in identify a tool to use in the college search process (a 39% increase). We are still awaiting the National Clearinghouse data for the class of 2016, which typically takes up to a full calendar year, but using self reported data from our senior exit survey 90% of participants indicated that they planned to attend college (either 2 year or 4 year) in the fall of 2016. Participants from the 2015-16 group are also being followed up with individually, at the start of their senior year by the college counselor and also the counseling interns to provide one-on-one support through the application and financial aid process in the fall.

For the 2016-17 school year we have again assessed the most recent school wide data, group participant perception data and the 2016 needs assessment data which indicates a gap still exists. Supported by data we have determined that this group is appropriately fit to run again. We are making gains with each year, as evidenced by the Clearinghouse data but it is small in growth and there is much more to be done. Our current Yes You Can groups are set to begin before the end of October, which is a change from previous years so they are starting earlier to allow the addition of 2 more weeks of curriculum and discussion, one of the changes being made currently.

Goal: To increase the percentage of low income students (those that qualify for the free and reduced lunch program, FRL) by 5% from 62% to 67% that enroll in postsecondary education for the graduating class of 2016.

Target Group: Low income, 11th grade students

Data Used to Identify Students: National Clearinghouse data, school wide needs assessment data, district research study data

School Counselor(s): Rosanna Giricz, Allyson Adams, Alain Roy, Shamoon Ebrahimi, Carla Bader, Elizabeth Hoover, Eliades Hernandez

ASCA Domain, Mindsets & Behaviors Standard(s): Mindset (Career) 4, Behavior: Learning Strategies (Career): 1,4,5,7,9 Behavior:Social Skills (Career): 3,5,8

Type of Activities to be Delivered in What Manner?: 9 small groups of 8-9 students conducted over the course of 8 weeks during rotating class periods. Weekly lesson plans covered the following topics: Resume writing and development, understanding educational levels and career opportunities,learning college related vernacular, dispelling common college related myths, understanding the investment of education, imagining what college looks like for each individual student, how to properly research colleges using various tools, financial barriers and financial understanding of paying for college, conducting a college search, visiting a four year university as part of a group field trip.

Process Data (Number of students affected): 77 (110 qualified as FRL but only 77 chose to participate)

Perception Data (Surveys or assessments used): Pre/Post Test: Prior to intervention 82% of students felt confortable that they had the skills and resources needed to achieve their goals after high school. After the intervention 94% felt confident. 2. Prior to intervention 82% felt comfortable exploring their college and or career interests. After intervention 97% felt comfortable. 3. Prior to intervention 53% had specific education or career plans for after high school. After the intervention 69% reported having a specific plan. 4. Prior to the intervention 18% were able to correctly identify the definition of what EFC means. After the intervention 63% were able to. 5. Prior to the intervention 1% were able to correctly demonstrate a skill of identify an appropriate college match search tool. After the intervention 40% were able to.

Outcome Data (Achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data): Postsecondary Enrollment: 75% of class of 2015 students who participated in the Yes You Can group enrolled in postsecondary education where as only 62% of all low income students from the class of 2015 enrolled. For the class of 2014,FRL students accounted for 19.62% of the 77.3% overall college enrollment for all students. The class of 2015 FRL students accounted for 21.30% of the 72.78% overall college enrollment for all students. 94% of the class of 2016 students who participated in the Yes You Can group self report that they plan to enroll in postsecondary education according to their senior exit surveys where as only 90% of all low income students report they plan to enroll in postsecondary education.

Implications: Because the group is run during student's junior year of high school, with the outcome data not being tracked until after graduation and through the National Clearinghouse there is a delayed time in getting the true outcome data. The National Clearinghouse does not release our school specific data for the graduating classes until the fall following graduation. This means that we will not have the true outcome data, as reported by the National Clearinghouse, until the fall of 2017 for the group of students that participated in the 2015-16 YYC group. However, the class of 2014 & 2015 (both of whom participated in YYC groups) show a positive trend in increasing postsecondary enrollment where as the overall FRL students showed a slight decrease unfortunately. 2014= YYC participants rate was 73% (all FRL students 64%) 2015= YYC particpants rate was 75% (all FRL students 62%) The challenge with this group is also recruitment. There are many more students eligible that would absolutely benefit from the group but getting them to commit is always a struggle. We need to work on our promotion and communication with students and families so that they are aware and more likely to attend. Possibly even more to using a social media platform to deliver the information or pieces of it for all students, regardless of whether or not the attend the group. The 2014 to 2015 data shows a slight decrease for all FRL students while the YYC participants increased. This is a sign that the group is effective but needs to reach more students to be able to change the rate of postsecondary enrollment for all FRL students.