School Counseling Closing-the-Gap Results Report 2015-2016 Narrative
Wakefield High School’s management plan identified several achievement gaps that exist between student groups. As a result, the school as a whole developed two goals to address these gaps. They were:
• Goal 1: To increase the number of students enrolled in one or more Advanced Placement (AP) or intensified courses (Dual Enrollment, advanced classes), recognizing the gap between student groups taking rigorous courses; and
• Goal 2: To increase the overall graduation rate when looking at the Graduation and Completion Index (GCI).
Our Counseling Department evaluated our school management plan prior to developing our school counseling program goals to ensure that the two were aligned.
In order to increase graduation rates and student academic performance, we needed to address student achievement and behavioral challenges. Accordingly, we created school counseling program goals focusing on increasing the overall number of students who had a plan at graduation and increasing the number of applications to post-secondary institutions, increasing the number of rigorous courses among all students, and decreasing the number of students experiencing suicidal ideation while increasing positive coping mechanisms. We made a conscious effort as a department to develop interventions that would target student groups and individual students to confront some of these barriers to achievement.
Our counseling core curriculum already contained many programs designed to help students meet their individual academic, career, and personal/social goals. However, we intentionally added assessment elements and tweaked the delivery of our programs to better serve our student population. This included running Coping Courtyard, to address students’ needs for developing positive coping strategies to manage stress and evening workshops to assist families in making good choices for their students. We adapted Project UPSTANDERS to increase awareness of the UPSTANDERS’ presence within the school and changed the mission from solely anti-bullying to creating a positive environment for all Wakefield students. Finally, we met individually with students who needed more targeted interventions.
The Counseling Department developed small group interventions to directly address Hispanic students who were new to the United States and in need of positive adjustment strategies. We also developed small groups to bolster student confidence for those identified as having the potential to take intensified or AP courses who had not yet attempted the more rigorous courses. Still another small group targeted at-risk students who continuously demonstrated inappropriate behaviors and presented as attendance concerns.
After identifying these concerns and developing targeted interventions to address them, we saw an increase of approximately 9.7% in the number of students enrolled in one or more intensified or AP classes for the 2016-2017 school year, a 1.7% increase when adjusting for population. We also achieved a slight increase in students who identified as two or more races or Black taking one or more advanced courses. We realized an increase of 45.6% in the number of applications to post-secondary institutions when compared to the previous year, a 25.6% increase when adjusting for population. This is directly correlated with decreasing the number of students with no plan at graduation. We experienced a decrease in the percentage of students with no plan from 19% during the 2014-2015 school year to 9% for the 2015-2016 school year, a decrease of 45%. As a result of this systemic change, our GCI increased from 87 to 92 points this last year, which resulted in full accreditation by the State of Virginia Department of Education.
Overall the interventions and strategies used by the school in conjunction with the Counseling Department led to these significant changes and positive results. However, there is still work to be done to close achievement gaps. We still need to address the number of Hispanic students enrolled in intensified and AP courses, providing this population with the support they may need to attempt more rigorous courses before graduating. Our Counseling Department is also looking at the gap between students receiving the advanced diploma versus the standard diploma. We plan to address these concerns during the 2017-2018 school year as our school counseling program goals evolve. We hope to continue increasing awareness of mental health concerns within the school and providing positive outlets for our students. We expect to continue to improve our GCI score every year through continuous intervention and prevention to ensure that more students graduate from Wakefield. We consider it crucial that students graduate from our high school not only with a diploma, but also with the knowledge and skills necessary to find fulfilling post-secondary experiences and engage in meaningful life work.