Carlton J. Kell High School (2017)

Marietta, GA

Academic Achievement
Career Development
College Readiness
Dropout Prevention
Postsecondary Preparation

Closing the Gap

Data presented in the 2015-16 Kell High School SSP (School Strategic Plan) showed that although Kell’s four year graduation rate had increased since the 2011-12 school year, the five year graduation rate for students had fallen stagnant since 2012-13 school year (less than 1% increase).

Enrollment data in August 2015 showed a significant number (4.4 %) of fifth year students that were off track for graduating with their original cohort by a semester or more at Kell. Twenty five students were identified as retained and entering high school in August 2011 with nineteen students being in the twelfth grade.

In addition to Kell SSP data, counselors received feedback from administrators and teachers identifying fifth year seniors as a primary group of students needing greater support academically and socioemotionally.

In September, counselors sought feedback from members of the Kell Advisory Council on interventions for the Closing the Gap project to assist fifth year seniors/students earn their high school diploma by December 2015. Feedback from an open discussion and survey included the following:

• Discouraging fifth year students from taking online coursework

• Encouraging referrals for students to utilize additional credit recovery programs as necessary (ex. Night School, GradPoint)

• Encouraging student referrals to Cobb County School District (CCSD) alternative education programs (Oakwood Digital Academy; Performance Learning Center)

• Provide opportunities for postsecondary planning and completion of college and financial aid applications

Counselors sought interventions that could provide a wraparound system for supporting identified students and their caregivers as well as provide information on alternative ways to earning their high school diploma. Senior transcripts were verified by two separate counselors prior to individual student consultations outlining remaining requirements and identifying a plan for after graduation.

Each student and caregiver were also given information on CCSD’s alternative high schools so students could have a more flexibility to work or provide childcare while recovering coursework to graduate. Alternative education programs have been shown to provide smaller classes with a lower student/teacher ratio that benefits students. (Ruzzi & Kraemer, 2006)

Additionally, school counselors held three small group meetings for fifth year students to provide information for postsecondary planning. Students also used group meetings to develop knowledge of available college and financial aid resources for after graduation. Research shows that “group work is a vital component of a comprehensive school-counseling program and has been recognized as a tool to enhance productive learning and an effective intervention for all students including those with special needs”. (Bore, Armstrong, & Womack, 2010)

Perception data from student surveys showed a large decrease (94%) from pretest to posttest regarding students reporting not confident at all about graduating within the next year. Additionally a majority of the identified students (92%) expressed that they either have a plan in place for after graduation or are considering a plan for after graduation.

Utilizing feedback from advisory council members and Kell faculty, counselors referred two students to CCSD alternative high school programs during the fall 2015 semester. These referred students successfully recovered credits required for graduation and were able to earn their diploma by May 2016.

Outcome data also showed that among seven students opting solely for online coursework only three students successfully earned credits for graduation supporting the hesitations of advisory council members. It should be noted that the three students who passed online classes only required two or fewer courses to meet their graduation requirements.

Fifth year students who were not successful in online classes also had time constraints such as having to work to support their families or child care in addition to a full course load. Some fifth year students were initially “no shows” and did not re-enroll in school until four weeks after the of the fall semester putting them at a disadvantage to complete course requirements. Despite counselors urging these students to take traditional classes, late enrolling students opted for online coursework for reasons such as more flexible time management and feeling self-conscious about seeing former teachers and peers.

In reviewing outcome and perception data from the Closing the Gap project, it is imperative to identify students who are off track earlier allowing them more time to recover coursework for promotion and graduation. Going forward, counselors will continue to refer off track students who are one or more semesters behind for graduation to alternative high schools to help them complete school within a four year timeline.

Goal: 100% of identified 5th year seniors &/or 5th year students with a high school entry year of 2011 will meet their remaining graduation requirements by December 2015

Target Group: off track 5th year students

Data Used to Identify Students: Identified 5th year seniors and/or 5th year students with a high school entry year of 2011

School Counselor(s): Stephen Chung, Tammy White, Valerie Bullock

ASCA Domain, Mindsets & Behaviors Standard(s): Mindsets 4. Understanding that postsecondary education and life-long learning are necessary for long-term career success (Academic; Career) 5. Belief in using abilities to their fullest to achieve high-quality results and outcomes (Academic; Career) Behavior: Learning Strategies 5. Apply media and technology skills (Academic; Career) Behavior: Self-Management Skills 10. Demonstrate ability to manage transitions and ability to adapt to changing situations and responsibilities (Academic Career; Social; Emotional) Behavior: Social Skills 1. Use effective oral and written communication skills and listening skills (Academic)

Type of Activities to be Delivered in What Manner?: Senior Transcript Verification (July – Aug 2015) - counselors rotating caseload notebooks to verify each senior is on track for graduation Individual Senior Consultations (Aug – Nov 2015) – counselors meet with each identified student/parent to outline goals to meet before and after graduation Parent consultations (Aug – Nov 2015) - providing resources for parents to assist their students with completing high school and navigating their post secondary plan (i.e. college, career, US Armed Forces) Small Group Meetings (Oct – Nov 2015) – Three (3) small group discussions for post-secondary planning (Where am I going? What does it cost? How am I getting there?)

Process Data (Number of students affected): Twenty five (25) identified 5th year seniors and/or 5th year students with a high school entry year of August 2011 or prior

Perception Data (Surveys or assessments used): Perception data (changes in attitude, skills, and/or knowledge): 1. Currently, you are off-track for graduation. How confident do you feel about graduating within the next year? (A) Not confident at all (B) Somewhat confident (C) Very confident 2. One a scale of 1-5, where are you in terms of having a plan after graduation? (A) I have no plan. (B) I am considering a plan. (C) I have a plan in place! Question #1 Results: 25 students participated in the pretest. Pretest: • 19 students reported no confidence at all • 5 students reported somewhat confident • 1 students reported feeling very confident Posttest: • 1 students reported no confidence at all, for a decrease of 94% from pretest to posttest • 7 students reported feeling somewhat confident, for an increase of 40% • 17 students reported feeling very confident about graduating within a year, for an increase of 1600% Question #2 Results: 25 students participated in the posttest Pretest: • 18 students reported on plan after graduation • 4 students reported they are considering a plan • 3 students reported having a plan in place. Posttest: • 2 students reported having no plan, for a decrease of 88% • 10 students reported they are now considering a plan, for an increase of 150% • 13 students reported having a plan in place, for an increase of 333%

Outcome Data (Achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data): 25 identified 5th year seniors/5th year students: Five (5) students withdrew to pursue adult education/ GED Five (5) students completed remaining graduation requirements in December 2015 Two (2) students passing coursework in progress and on track to graduate in May 2016 Eight (8) students withdrew for various reasons (out of district, quit) Two (2) students currently attending PLC to complete year One (1) student currently attending Ombudsman Two (2) students are not true seniors; they have transferred from foreign countries with a different school year start date

Implications: In reviewing the GAP project results for perception data and outcome data the Kell HS professional school counseling department will increase communication with teachers and parents when identifying students struggling academically in their respective second and third year of high school. Utilizing feedback from the 2015-16 advisory council meetings and its members the counseling department will seek to create greater partnerships with parents and caretakers of struggling students to connect them to academic support opportunities (LEAP tutoring, parent teacher conferences, peer mentor groups).