Closing the Gap Results Report
•How was the gap defined through data?
Each year school related data is used to determine areas that need to be addressed to support our school’s plan for improvement. Once our school’s 2015-2016 discipline data was reviewed, it was noted that our discipline referrals for negative school behaviors were on the rise. The data indicated that fifth-grade had the highest number of discipline referrals out of all grade levels. More importantly, 94% of behavior events were from 5th grade boys. Through careful collaboration with administration, advisory council, and teachers we decided it was better to be proactive than reactive. Therefore, at the beginning of the year lessons and interventions were offered to all fifth grade boys in order to start the year on a positive note and decrease the percentage of boys engaging in negative behaviors by 10% from a percentage of 94% in 2015-2016 to 85% in 2016-2017. The following will address what was implemented in order to successfully close the gap for our students.
Fortunately, we were able to exceed our goal by 9%. There was a 19% total reduction in the percentage of boys with behavior events (94% in 2015-2016 to 76% in 2016-2017). This indicated that the lessons and interventions had a positive impact on the boy's behavior.
The activities and interventions will definitely be continued next year in order to continue addressing overall school behavior.
•Why were activities or interventions chosen for the gap group?
The three following interventions were chosen to assist these students in making appropriate behavior choices.
Intervention 1: (Small-Group Counseling) Students received lessons about the concept of “Mindfulness.” Current research suggests that mindfulness practices in school result in reductions in behavior problems, aggression, increased happiness, and the ability to pay attention (Suttie, 2007). Mindfulness also helps students block out distractions (Kerr, et. al, 2011).
This intervention was chosen in order teach these students how to work together as a group but, to also help build mindfulness to promote positive emotions of self-acceptance. Many of our students are at-risk, and exhibit a lot of anger. The goal was to build a better self-concept in these students and lessen the need to act out in inappropriate ways.
Intervention 2: (Ripple Effects) This evidence-based intervention has been proven to change behavior, increase academic success, and strengthen pro-social behavior among children and adolescents. Through the Ripple Effects computer software program, students were provided laptops to work on individual issues with the use of the Ripple Effects program. The program includes information about various topics. Within these topic areas there are several activities for students to complete, such as games, videos, questions, assessments etc.
This intervention was chosen because it involves technology (which students love) and it is peer motivated. Through the use of videos, students were able to watch other kids speak on how to handle a particular issue and how the strategies learned through Ripple Effects proved to be successful for them.
Intervention 3: (2x10) This intervention is a simple preventative measure to help ensure the foundation of a positive relationship between the adult and student. The strategy provided positive attention to students through encouragement, acknowledgement, and recognition of the students’ strengths.
This intervention was chosen because of the relationship building component. Chatting with the students on a daily basis meant the world to them. It gave them the opportunity to be vulnerable, trust, and share the happenings of their lives. As the counselor, it gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about each student and to see what was lying beneath the iceberg. This was highly valuable.
•Explain how the data results will help in the future:
The “Closing the Gap” group was successful according to perception data and outcome data. The students responded positively to being able to address their issues in a small group setting and through the use of technology students were provided with a different type of learning technique to address behaviors. It is imperative that the behavior of these students be monitored and opportunities for skill building be provided on an on-going basis. Relationship building should continue with this group. The need to feel valued and have someone to connect with daily is important to the students’ success in school.