At Miles Elementary, the school counseling team acknowledges that identifying and closing achievement gaps are an integral part of helping every student be successful. An achievement gap was identified after reviewing Fall 2015 Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Reading scores. During this review of MAP standardized test score data, the counselors and administration noticed that 5th grade students who were scoring below the 35th percentile were predominately male students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). After discussing this concern with the administration team, it was determined that this group of students should become the target of Goal 3, the Closing the Gap Goal. The counselors selected the Why Try (WT) small group curriculum as the intervention to be used to close the gap because research from Moore (2001) indicated that WT contributes to increases in confidence, motivation, and test scores for students who participate in the program. Therefore, Miles’ Goal 3 was developed to foster expected growth in the target group of students as mandated by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) by the Spring 2016 Reading MAP test.
All students, K-5, at Miles Elementary take the NWEA MAP assessment. Review of the Fall 2015 MAP data revealed that 7 male students in the 5th grade with an IEP had scored at or below the 35th percentile (below proficiency). The goal of raising MAP reading scores was set at 6 points as this was the average/typical growth for the norm group of 5th graders. At the onset of the school year, the Student Success Skills (SSS) curriculum was implemented as a Tier 1 intervention by counselors and teachers in all K-5 classrooms. However, this gap group was still evidencing that they needed more supplemental support so they were targeted for the Tier 2 WT small group program. All 7 students returned permission slips to participate. Additionally, each student included in the WT group received Tier 3 intervention via a daily Check-in/Check-out system. Mr. Dollins provided these interventions.
Seven (7) male students in the 5th grade who had IEPs participated in the intervention. Services were delivered on a weekly basis for a total of 6 sessions lasting 30-45 minutes each. Services were delivered from 2/24/2016 to 3/30/2016. In addition, during this time frame, students participated in a daily Check-In/Check-Out system which consisted of morning and afternoon quick checks (5-10 minutes) with the counselor. During these meetings, students received reminders, coaching, and encouragement, and monitoring of their grades and behavior.
All 7 students in the group completed a 10 question pre/post-test (see attached) what they knew before and after regarding the ten topics covered in WT: Reality Ride (Q1) Positive & Negative Labels (Q2) Tearing off your label (Q3) Defense Mechanisms (Q4) Positive Self-Talk (Q5) Peer Pressure (Q6) Jumping Your Hurdles (Q7) Lifting the Weight (Q8) Positive Relationships or Connections (Q9) and Dreams/Goals (10). The pre-tests took place on 2/24/16 before the first lesson and the post-tests on 3/30/16 after the lessons ended. As a whole, students increased in their overall knowledge of the WT skills from 49.5% at pre-test to 92.5% at post-test.
Outcome data results revealed that 5 out of 7 students (71%) who participated in the WT small group and Check-In/Check-Out system, met their expected growth goals as set forth by NWEA. Individual growth ranged from 3 to 36 RIT points with an average gain of 18.5 points. As the goal was to increase their scores on the MAP reading assessment by 6 points, this group, as a whole, far exceeded this goal. Full explanation of the perception and outcome data results, tables, and figures can be found in the Closing the Gap Results Report.
NEXT STEPS BASED ON RESULTS
The counselors at Miles are firmly committed to identifying and assisting in closing achievement gaps for students. Careful examination of data indicates possible target groups who need services. Given that the results of this small group and the Check-In/Check-Out support were so positive, the counselors will continue to use the WT evidence-based program with students in this grade level who struggle academically, as well as expand this program with additional grades in the 2016-2017 school year. In addition, the Check-In/Check-Out system which offers constant, ongoing contact with students proved useful in helping these struggling students remain accountable and connected. Miles counselors collaborate with administration and teachers to prioritize strategies that will accelerate the achievement of targeted students, maximize their effect, and continuously monitor the impact of these strategies on student outcomes.