Small group responsive services are a key component to the South High School Counseling Department’s comprehensive program. As our department plans for the upcoming school year, groups are created based on student need, feedback from the advisory council and are designed to support our identified program goals. The decision about which counselor delivers each group is based on particular expertise and/or interest, balancing caseload among counselors, and which counselor has the majority of students participating in the group on their caseload.
In the 2015-2016 school year, all counselors ran an Academic Success Group for current 9th graders. The purpose of the Academic Success Group’s was to support students in their academics, help with the transition to high school, and increase freshmen promotion rate. Students for this group were identified based off of their junior high grades and their current grades in high school. If students failed one or more classes in junior high and had 3 or more D’s and/or F’s, students were invited to participate in an Academic Success Group. The group focused on helping students improve their academic performance and stay in cohort by developing skills like goal setting, problem solving, and seeking support.
Each counselor ran a group in the fall 2015-2016 Semester. Groups were formed by first identifying students needing and willing to participate in the group. Students were then split into groups based on who was their alpha counselor and/or who already had relationships with certain students. Each group had 6-8 participants and met every other week from October-January. The results of the group were quite positive. Students reported that the group helped them do better in their classes, stay better organized, and get caught up with their missing assignments. At the end of fall semester, counselors identified additional students that might benefit from an Academic Success Group. Justin Roadifer ran a spring Academic Success Group for these 6 students since the majority of students in the group fell into his caseload. Students in the spring group had similar results and reported similar praises on the group’s helpfulness. At the end of the school year, 55% of group participants were promoted to 10th grade.
Counselors saw a lot of success with our 2015-2016 Academic Success Group’s. In years past, academic groups have targeted students that are already behind and struggling in high school. While these groups are still impactful, counselors believe that targeting at-risk students as they are just entering high school and helping them achieve success from the start is even more powerful. Having success from the start of high school will have huge implications on decreasing drop-out rate, keeping students in cohort, and increasing on-time graduation. With such a drastic increase in freshmen promotion, counselors will continue to offer academic success group’s in future years.
In addition to offering academic success groups for 9th graders to support our goal of increasing promotion to 10th grade, academic success groups were also offered for 10th graders to support our goal of decreasing the percentage of students out of cohort, and offered several ACT test prep and WorkKeys groups to support our goal of increasing the percentage of students who receive a 17 or higher on ACT and/or 12 or higher on WorkKeys. In addition to the groups run by the counseling department, supplemental groups were run by our school social worker and safe and drug free counselor. As a result, South HS is able to offer a variety of groups to meet the personal/social, career, and academic needs of our students.