11. Closing the Gap-Attendance (Goal #1)
Counselors are uniquely trained to disaggregate the data and develop interventions to help close the gap between student groups. Yearly the counselors look at the data to develop their program goals to address identified needs in the school. We are fortunate in our district to have access to a variety of data tools. The state longitudinal data shows previous data on attendance, test scores and enrollment and the county’s ABC report allows educators to get current data on students who are at risk in those areas which is predictors of graduation and college success. Yearly, the counselors work on goals that focus on attendance, behavior and course performance.
This particular year the counselors focused on several student gaps as noted in the goals. This specific part focuses on students with disabilities in the area of attendance. The gaps were identified when gathering the data from the SLDS and adding into our School Profile sheet (8.9% ). Although our attendance improved the year prior(2014 8%,-2015 6%), students with disabilities was the highest among the groups. Students w disabilities made up 9% of the students that missed school v students wo out 6%. This is problematic since yearly, Roberts Elementary School Counselors chose an attendance goal, students w disabilities v students w out disabilities was showing a gap. Research shows that second to grades, that attendance is a predictor for later success.
Counselors addressed attendance using a several tiered research based approach. It included speaking with the stakeholders, School Wide Barc Program, TEAM daily check in, letters, phone call, individual meetings and family attendance meetings. It began shortly after pulling the list of students w disabilities who were still enrolled, counselors asked previous teachers what contributed to attendance. Counselors also looked at the research pointing to reasons these students miss more days. Since Roberts has several of the county’s self-contained classes for autism, the counselors worked with the teachers and parents to see if therapy appointments could be changed later in the day to decrease the missed days. Students with disabilities on the list for 10 or more absences the year prior were added to the TEAM (Teaching Everyone Attendance Matters) program which is a daily check-in. When small group decisions came, these students were highly considered if the additional support would be beneficial. Several of these students were placed in small group. Counselors also checked the ABC report for newly enrolled students (missing >10% of school) and students without disabilities who had more than 13 absences who could be added.
After the several tired research based approach the counselors found that overall attendance for the school increased. Specific students that were targeted for this program decreased attendance by 33% and the students with disabilities decreased it by 22%. Although the counselors didn’t make their goal, the increase in perception data and outcome data specifically for the TEAM participants was a move in the right direction. The counselors were surprised that once the data from the year prior came back, it showed not only an increase in overall attendance (6%-8%) but an increase w students with disabilities (8.9%-12.6%). Counselors looked at the data and they found that most of the 2015-2016 absenteeism with students with disabilities was new students that came to the school and the newly added pre-k classes which are all self-contained.
Although the goal was not met, there was success with the targeted group of students. After looking into the data, the counselors discovered a few reasons for the target group but not overall for the school or students with disabilities. One reason for the increased attendance was attributed to students that were zoned for the school but attended at another school so they couldn’t be included in the interventions. Another reason was the self-contained pre-K class that was added during the 2015-2016 year. Several students already had several absences prior to beginning the TEAM intervention, it is important to begin this earlier in the year. Another point the counselors have learned is the research suggesting the importance of beginning in pre-k. The counselors will include pre-k in their interventions as well. It can be challenging to help improve students with disabilities due to the additional health concerns but this is not to say they should be ignored. In fact, students with disabilities alone pose a 30% risk of not graduating. The counselors will continue to work with this group of students to support them.