Identification of Achievement Gap: Lake Havasu High School strives to provide a variety of opportunities for ALL students to experience success and graduate on time. These opportunities include: a month-long summer school course, take AP/Honors and Dual Enrollment classes, complete failed courses through a period of credit recovery as 11th or 12th graders, attend an end of semester math credit recovery program, or participate in after-school tutoring. Even with all these support mechanisms, our graduation rate could be higher. Data indicated that attendance and discipline impacted the LHHS graduation rate. Administration and stakeholders wished to improve the graduation rate, thus the Counseling Department developed goals to address the issue of equity and student achievement.
Research indicates that attendance can be credited as an important component of school success (Gottfried, 2010). Students with better attendance typically score higher on standardized assessments than students with chronic absenteeism. Additionally, lower attendance rates may be detrimental to learning, academic achievement, and even be seen as risk factors in future years of education and overall economic success. The LHHS Counseling Department noted that excessive absenteeism and discipline referrals were factors with some of our students and designed intervention strategies to address this educational gap. A vital component of a comprehensive school counseling program is to provide small groups to enhance student achievement for ALL students.
Students were selected to participate in an anger management group, which met during second and third quarter. Seeing Red is a curriculum designed to help students better understand their anger so they can make healthy and successful choices and build strong relationships. Overall, it aims for participants to realize that they can control their behavior and develop practical skills and strategies to manage their feelings which, in turn, will increase their self-esteem. These objectives are achieved through role playing common situations, identifying associated feelings, problem solving, recognizing negative behaviors, and anticipating consequences.
Uniquely designed for small groups of willing participants, Seeing Red enables participants to learn from and empower each other. This group process helps participants build upon other important developmental skills: leadership skills, social skills, and building self-esteem. The counselors felt this curriculum would help students overcome challenges, which would lead to an improvement in attendance and a decrease in discipline referrals. The Seeing Red curriculum is aligned to ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors and supports the department and school’s vision and mission.
The group of six students met for eight 45-minute lessons in the library. There were three females and three males who participated in the group (three 9th grade and three 10th grade). A pre-test was given to all participants to determine how he/she currently handled anger. Students responded “always” or “sometimes” to more negative ways of dealing with anger (e.g. hit or kick a person= 86%, call names = 100%, threaten someone = 86%). In the post-test, students reported they were less likely to hit/kick (100% decrease), threaten (100% decrease) or call names (57.1% decrease) when they became upset.
There were a total of nineteen (19) discipline referrals for group participants in the first quarter of school, prior to participating in this group. Discipline referrals decreased to one referral in fourth quarter (94.7% reduction in referrals) for those who completed the Seeing Red group. Attendance also improved for students who completed this group. There were a total of thirty-six (36) absences during the first quarter which decreased to sixteen (16) for the fourth quarter (55.56% reduction in absences).
Next Steps Based on Results: The Seeing Red group supported the program goal of decreasing the number of referrals for unexcused absences by 2% by the end of the 2015-2016 school year by providing students with improved relational skills and ability to manage daily stressors. Results from the Seeing Red group indicated that LHHS counselors should continue to offer this group as it has proven beneficial in reducing discipline referrals and absences. The group referral process may need to be revised to increase size and interest. The meeting schedule may also need to be revised to help improve group attendance rates.
To decrease opportunity and achievement gaps among students, LHHS counselors are committed to providing small group counseling services, adding classroom guidance lessons that will address goal-setting and absenteeism, and further review data to ensure all students have the opportunity to achieve success at Lake Havasu High School.