Wakefield High School (2017)

Arlington, VA

Academic Achievement
Career Development
Postsecondary Preparation

Small Group Responsive Services

Small-Group Responsive Services 2015-2016 Narrative

Conducting small groups is a vital part of our Counseling Department. However, as the school grows and more county programs take precedence over class time, our department is met with resistance from teachers to allow students to miss class for anything other than instructional remediation. While we are aware that small groups give us the opportunity to provide specialized services to our students, but are finding less available space to provide this essential service within our program. Typically, our school psychologists and social workers have more flexibility in their schedules and face less opposition when running social and emotional groups. However, we hope that with time and the data we receive from these groups, we will be better able to demonstrate to the entire school population the necessity of counseling groups.

Arlington Public Schools requires that all teachers and counselors submit SMART goals for our professional development portfolio, which can also be used by the county to assess our work. During the 2015-2016 school year, we decided as a department that our small groups should address issues relevant to our school counseling program goals that also aligned with our SMART goals for the county. These groups were run in conjunction with our other year-long groups, including UPSTANDERS and HILT Newcomers.

The academic confidence building groups targeted students who were identified by their teachers as having the potential to take more rigorous courses, but had not yet done so in high school. The purpose of this group was to help students gain knowledge, skills, and the confidence necessary to take intensified or Advanced Placement (AP) courses prior to graduation. The three counselors who decided to run these groups, Kelly Carruthers, Renita Mathis, and Alvin Truesdale, chose to work with 9th and 10th grade students, because doing so gave these students more time to integrate the skills and concepts learned into their academic experience in high school. The counselors also thought that a number of students on their caseloads had the potential to take higher-level classes to stretch themselves academically. After completion of the group, 57 out of the 63 group participants enrolled in at least one or more advanced classes for the 2016-2017 school year—a 90.48% increase.

Mrs. Almada and her intern, Ms. Mosley, decided to run a group focusing on at-risk students, because they noted that a disproportionate number of HILT (English Language Learning) students were at-risk for not graduating. Additionally, Mr. Lopez and Mrs. Almada, our two counselors specializing in HILT, have seen increased enrollment of students new to the country and view groups as a special opportunity to assist these students in making long-term attachments to the school, other students, the surrounding community, and the United States.

The small groups formed during the 2015-2016 academic year reflected our school counseling program goals while also addressing significant gaps between groups. The outcomes of these groups suggest that this form of intervention positively impacts our students’ academic and behavioral performance as well as their emotional well-being in school. It is essential that our small groups continue to be based on the needs of our students and that we elect to run groups that will target students in need of additional counseling services.

Group Name: “Moving-Up Academically: What it takes to Succeed in an Advance Course”

Goal: There will be a 3% increase in the number of students enrolled in one or more intensified or AP courses between the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years.

Target Group: Identified students in the 9th and 10th grade who have the potential of stretching themselves academically.

Data Used to Identify Students: 9th and 10th grade students who have only attempted regular level coursework in their 2015-2016 schedule. The initial list of students is then narrowed based on performance in classes and previous SOL testing.

School Counselor(s): Kelly Carruthers Renita Mathis Alvin Truesdale

ASCA Domain, Mindsets & Behaviors Standard(s): M 4 M 5 B-LS 3 B-LS 8 B-SS 3 B-SS 8

Outline of Group Sessions Delivered: I. Introductions and Determining Group Rules II. Dispelling of Myths III. Preparing for the Rigor IV. Resiliency and Relationship Building V. Results from Advanced Courses VI. Decision-Making, Wrap-up and Schedule Classes for next year.

Process Data (Number of students affected): 63 students participated consistently in group work

Perception Data (Surveys or assessments used): Pre/Post Evaluation: 23.8% increase in students’ ability to identify their strengths and areas in need of improvement 41.6% increase in the number of students who knew how to self-advocate 46.4% increase in students’ knowledge of resources available to them to receive extra help 30.9% increase in their development of time management strategies 33.3% increase in their understanding of the requirements and expectations of an advanced course 29.7% increase in understanding the importance of taking a rigorous course schedule while in high school 33.3% increase in student’s confidence to take an advanced course prior to graduation.

Outcome Data (Achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data): 57 out of the 63 group participants enrolled in at least one of more advanced class for the 2016-2017 school year; which is a 90.48% increase.

Implications: This group could include members from any grade level with anxiety about trying advanced or AP courses. It is necessary to educate future 9th and 10th grade students about advanced courses; to prepare them for future rigorous courses and increase their level of confidence.