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Riverside Polytechnic High School (2017)

Riverside, CA

Academic Achievement
Career Development
College Readiness

Small Group Responsive Services

Prior to the 2015-2016 school year, small group services were not offered at Poly High School. It is important to note that this was due to counselors having a caseload of an average of 600 students, which is more than double the recommended ASCA caseload of 250 to 1. The addition of the sixth counselor this year brought the caseloads down to be somewhat more manageable, with counselors averaging 450-500 students. Although it is still double the national standard, it did make a difference so that counselors could have more free time to conduct small groups. During this transition, staff, parents, and students, all had to get accustomed to the idea of counselors performing group counseling. It took many conversations with all stakeholders including our Counseling Advisory Council. However, it was something that the team felt strongly had been missing and were passionate to bring to the department so that students could have access to a comprehensive counseling program that provided access to small group services.

Teachers, parents, and students were all sent out a survey about offering groups, what topics might be feasible, and also allowed parents and teachers to refer, and students to self-refer. From that results, it was gleaned that stress and anxiety are a huge factor in school academic achievement. For this reason, it was important to have a Stress/Anxiety Group. However, all students who were referred to group for stress/anxiety were given the opportunity to participate in small group; however, less than ten students were willing to participate, mostly in part because of the stigma associated with group counseling/mental health and because this was the first year that groups were offered at Poly. The other four groups are aligned with our goals of increasing graduation rates; therefore, the Academic and Personal Success Groups were implemented.

We have taken into account feedback from students regarding the stigma associated with group counseling. One of the suggestions we received is to offer workshop based classes that are one day in addition to small groups. It would create multiple ways for students to receive counseling services via different formats.

The team met during one of our department meetings, and after looking at results from the initial survey and our goals, counselors were given the option to choose what type of group they felt most comfortable running based on expertise/skills. Although all counselors are comfortable running groups, having the flexibility to choose keeps our group cohesive and maintains respect for each counselor’s individual preferences.

Therefore a total of five groups were conducted during the 2015-2016 school year. Three Personal Success Groups targeting freshmen, one Academic Success Group targeting any student grades nine through twelve (grouped by grade levels) who had four or more “F’s,” and one Anxiety/Stress Management Group.

Data and perception data were collected for all groups and shared at the end of the year. Counselors will once again look at the results at the beginning of the following school year so that we can make data informed decisions about our small group responsive services.

By offering group counseling during the 2015-2016 school year, the counseling team hopes to decrease the stigma associated with group. We await an increase in group participation for the following school year and hope to offer more groups within the three domains (academic, career, and social/emotional). The small groups focused heavily on the academic domain since they support our goals established in our annual agreement. In alignment with data informed best practices, it is understandable that as our goals/focus changes, so will our small groups.

During second semester, the district hired a part time therapist (Student Assistant Program SAP Counselor) to work at Poly High School. The licensed professional (SAP Counselor) provides therapy, which is outside the scope of School Counseling and the three American School Counseling Association (ASCA) domains (academic/career/social/emotional). The SAP Counselor performed individual, family, and small group therapy at Poly High School. During the 2015-2016 school year, the SAP Counselor held three small therapy groups (grief and loss, anger management, and self-esteem). The SAP Counselor has made referrals to therapy more convenient by offering it on site. Prior to this, the School Counselor would work with the family to refer to an outside agency and provide resources on available agencies/services.

Group Name: Academic Success Group

Goal: By June 6th, 2016, increase by 5% the number of students in grades nine, ten, and eleven, who meet the credits needed to graduate. Freshmen from 78% to 83%, Sophomores from 78.7% to 83.7%, and Juniors from 68.9% to 73.9%.

Target Group: 9th and 10th grade students who are currently failing 4 or more classes

Data Used to Identify Students: 2015 1st Quarter Progress Grades

School Counselor(s): Yuridia Nava

ASCA Domain, Mindsets & Behaviors Standard(s): Academic Domain Category 1 Mindset Standards 2- Self Confidence in the ability to succeed 3. Sense of belonging in the school environment, and 6 Positive Attitude towards school and learning. Category 2: Behavior Standards 3. Use time management, organizational, and student skills, 4) Apply self-motivation and self-direction to learning. 7. Identify long and short term academic and career goals

Outline of Group Sessions Delivered: Session 1 Getting to Know Ourselves/ Group Rules/Norms Session 2 Time Management Session 3 Goal Setting Session 4 Check Out our Study Habits Session 5 Test Anxiety Session 6 Where are we now Session 7 Wrap Up

Process Data (Number of students affected): 8

Perception Data (Surveys or assessments used): Pre Test 1. I am confident in my ability to succeed? 20% Yes, 80% No 2. I feel a sense of belonging in the school environment? 0% Yes, 100% No 3. I know how to practice time management? 0% No, 100% Yes 4. I have self-motivation in my learning? 10% No, 90% Yes 5. I have short term and long term goals for my education? 0% no, 100% Yes 6. I know how to mange test anxiety? 0% no, 100% Yes 7. I know some study habit strategies? 0% no, 100% Yes Post Test 1. I am confident in my ability to succeed? 80% No, 20% Yes 2. I feel a sense of belonging in the school environment? 90% No, 10% Yes 3. I know how to practice time management? 90% No, 10% Yes 4. I have self-motivation in my learning? 90% No, 10% Yes 5. I have short term and long term goals for my education? 100% no, 0% Yes 6. I know how to mange test anxiety? 100% no, 0% Yes 7. I know some study habit strategies? 100% no, 0% Yes

Outcome Data (Achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data): Grades from Semester 1 Report Card. At the quarter 100% of students were failing four or more classes. After group was completed grades were run again and it was found that all students improved one to five classes. At the quarter when students were identified 100% were failing all six courses for a total of 42 combined failing courses. After group the semester grades showed that the seven students were only failing 18 classes combined (42%), which was a 57% decrease in class fails.

Implications: This was the first time Poly held groups. 60 9th and 10th grade students were invited to participate. Despite parent contact and recruitment efforts from the counselors, only 10 returned the group counseling permission slip form and of those 10, two withdrew and went to another school. Therefore participation was low (only 8 students). Since academic group counseling was highly effective, we plan to offer more group counseling the following school year as students and parents become more open to it.

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