The Williamstown Elementary School Counselors identified the gap by looking at Third grade Reading MAP scores. Students who scored between 172 and 183 (or Low Average category scoring between the 21st and 40th percentile) on their Fall reading MAP scores received Tier Two school counseling interventions to improve their MAP scores 10% between Fall, Winter, and Spring. This gap was important to address because it identified the students that were close to bumping up to the Average category (41st to 60th percentile) in the Reading MAP test.
This intervention is related to the third school counseling program goal. The third goal consists of a Tier Two counseling intervention. Williamstown’s third goal was for students to improve their MAP scores 10% between Fall, Winter, and Spring testing dates, as compared to the norm group. The closing-the-gap intervention addressed this goal by specifically focusing on reading comprehension. This group was also a chance for students to feel a sense of belonging and the freedom to be creative through group activities.
The book club intervention was unique and chosen to address this gap because research (Morgan & Fuchs, 2007; Whittingham & Huffman, 2009) suggests that students look to their peers for positive role models and motivation. The book club created an environment in which counseling could take place as the counselor connected the content of the book to the content of the participants’ lives. Further, Polleck (2010) suggested that within book clubs students are free to explore and negotiate their understanding of themselves and the world through exploration of the text. This made it uniquely appropriate to close the reading achievement gap for this group of students by addressing both their social-emotional needs as well as their reading conceptualization and ability to connect reading content to their lives.
Ten students in third grade participated in the small group intervention. The small group consisted of lessons based on “The One and Only Ivan” book. It was delivered through small group Book Buddies time.
Students completed a six-item pre and post-tests regarding how they felt about reading (see uploaded document). The pre- and post-tests included items such as: “I like reading,” “I read outside of school,” and “I know what to do when I come to a word I don’t know.” Students were then given the option to rate themselves a 1 (No, Never!) and up to a 5 (Yes, Definitely!). The perception data showed that students began the intervention feeling like they liked reading and paid attention to how the character in the book feels. The post assessment scores only reinforced those beliefs. Students did increase significantly in their ability to connect what they read to their life. This may be a result of the counseling content of the small group and how the counselor connected content from the book to life. The students increased in their ability to assess their own growth, but interestingly went down slightly in their perception of what to do when they get to a word they did not know. This may have been a result of reading strategies not being the sole focus of the intervention.
Outcome data was assessed by the Spring MAP Reading scores. The increase of 15.1 points is far above the normed national average growth of 10.1 points between fall and spring MAP assessments in reading. Five out of ten of the students that participated in the closing-the-gap group increased their MAP Reading score by at least 10%.
In this type of intervention, the book that is chosen is key to the growth of the students. The freedom to flow with the content and to use the content of the book to create a counseling environment to connect content to the lives of the students is key. The counselor will continue to expand the book library of possibilities for the book club. Also, a more suitable pre-post assessment will be created that better assesses the social-emotional development of the group members in addition to their understanding of the book content. The items on the pre-post assessment may not have been ideal to assess the impact of the intervention. An instrument will be developed that better assesses the attitude and knowledge change of students as it relates to life experiences and not just reading components. Anecdotal data, basically student verbal feedback, indicated that they enjoyed the book club and that is should be repeated in the future.