Small Group Responsive Services Narrative
•Why were the group topics on the action plan selected?
After reviewing our school data, and consulting with teachers, administration, and our advisory council, it was determined that our school discipline referrals from 2015-2016 were due to lack of social skills. Behavior incident counts were steadily increasing over the years. Therefore, there was definitely a need to conduct small groups that mainly targeted social skills. Especially, anger. Some kids enter our building with so much anger due to circumstances that are unfortunately out of our control.
Our school data revealed that our upper grades had the greatest number of school referrals due to negative school behaviors. Behavior issues were also having an impact on academics. This information was used to design an action plan that was carefully aligned with the mindsets and behaviors that were developed for our students at the different grade levels. Group topics to be addressed were presented at our school’s Open House in order to inform parents and other stakeholders. This year a total of 10 groups were conducted in response to our school’s data.
•How were the participants for groups on the action plan selected?
Before beginning small groups, the group members were chosen carefully and in a well thought out manner. Group members were selected by the counselor, or from teacher or parent recommendation. Also, school data was used in determining group members as well.
The school counselor met with and screened each student to ensure they were a good fit for the group prior to beginning services. During this meeting, students completed interview questions. If it was determined that the student could not benefit from group counseling, then the counselor met with the student individually until group counseling was a more favorable intervention. Once a student was chosen to participate in a group, permission letters were sent home to obtain consent from the parent/guardian for group participation. Each group met once a week during lunch for 30 minutes.
One of the groups was a fifth-grade academic support group. This group supported one of our program goals for academic improvement. The name of the of group was the W.A.G. Crew (Winners Achieving Goals). This group consisted of ten fifth grade boys identified by their teachers as reading below grade level as indicated by student HCLI reading levels at the beginning of the year. These students were all reading on second grade level and were at risk for meeting grade level expectations. Once the W.A.G. Crew completed small group sessions on "academic achievement", the group continued to meet twice a month throughout the entire school year. This small group was assigned various school activities to build self-esteem and leadership skills. Once the group concluded, mentoring support continue for this group to foster relationship building which is crucial to the success of at-risk students. The W.A.G. crew received mentoring from our local KAZ group, Robins Air Force Base employees, and other community stakeholders. In addition to these things, a teacher graciously volunteered to create a “Go-Fund” me page for the WAG Crew. The funds were used to go on a field trip to the HAWKS game in Atlanta, GA., purchase WAG t-shirts, and items for our service projects.
At the end of the year, we had a “Men of Change” ceremony in honor of the W.A.G. Crew. The Superintendent of schools, several board members, community members, parents, fifth and fourth grade boys were all in attendance.
The WAG Crew really exceled. Student HCLI levels increased from the previous year. Though the students did not reach the goal of reading on a fifth grade level, most students were reading on a 4th grade level by the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
2015-2016 SLDS (Statewide Longitudinal Data System) results compared to 2016-2017 SLDS results showed an increase in Georgia Milestones Reading Lexile scores which was one of our program goals. The group's avg. Lexile score was 552L in 2015-2016 to an average score of 724L in 2016-2017. This was an increase by 172 points. The Lexile bands are the basis for determining at what text complexity level students should be reading and at which grades to make sure they are ultimately prepared for reading demands of college and careers. Another important factor for readiness is a student’s ability to read and understand texts of steadily increasing complexity as they progress through school.
A group of this nature should continue with a great focus on building relationships.