After the implantation of our core curriculum lessons the counseling team sat down to evaluate their effectiveness. There was an emphasis on academic achievement lessons this year to align with our program goal of improving promotion rates. This goal was developed to help decrease the number of retentions from previous years. The area that needed improvement in academic achievement was in the form of establishing good study skills, improving test taking skills, and preparing for the promotion to high school. We selected these lessons based on the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors to help students improve learning strategies, growth mindsets, and self-management skills. Each grade level counselor, selected one lesson to deliver to their grade level in order to provide equity and access to all students.
The sixth grade “Study Smart for Middle School Success” lesson was chosen at the teachers request because they felt our incoming 6th grade class was lacking in study and organizational skills. Students were introduced to middle school organization skills, test taking techniques, and study skills. The perception data based on the pre-tests revealed that only 22% of the 288 sixth grade students felt they had “Excellent” study skills while 50% indicated that their study skills needed improvement. After the series of lessons were taught, perception data showed that 70% of the students felt their study skills had improved to “Excellent”. Outcome data showed an improvement from 22 students at Progress report 1 not meeting promotion criteria to only 4 at the Semester 1 report card time. By the end of the school year, all 6th grade students were promoted to 7th grade with zero retentions. Looking at the data results, the counseling team concluded the lessons did help the new middle school students acquire the skills they needed to be successful in meeting promotion standards so the lesson will be continued next year. Next year we would like to add a parent component by surveying the parents on their students study habits at home and include lessons on good homework study habits.
The seventh grade lesson “Standardized Test Taking Skills” addressed the knowledge and skills needed to successfully take a standardized test in order to help improve scores. Our students take the IOWA test in the 7th grade as well as the End-of-Grade exams. Perception data was based on a 5 question pre/post-test of knowledge-based questions. Question 1 increased by 12%, question 2 increased by 5%, question 3 increased by 15%, question 4 increased by 34%, and question 5 increased by 31%. Correct responses improved from 31% to 68% correct. Outcome data measured average Lexile score growth from 70.3 points to 80.5 points following the series of skill building lessons. Overall, teachers were pleased with the results of the improvement in test scores and Lexile growth following the lessons. One adjustment we would do different next year is to administer this lesson prior to the IOWA/CoGAT tests in October so students benefit from the lesson earlier in the school year.
The eighth grade lesson held at the beginning of the school year helped students learn the graduation requirements for their respective high schools. 100% of the 8th grade students completed their Individual Graduation Plans. 97% of the students learned the registration process for their high school, and 100% of students were able to identify the number of credits needed to graduate high school. Students who applied and were accepted to Magnet High schools also completed applications and schedules with the 8th grade counselor. 100% of students successfully registered for their freshman classes by the high school deadlines. Outcome data for this lesson was measured in our promotion/graduation rate. 99% of 8th grade student were promoted to high school. 338 eighth grade students earned promotion, 1 student retained in the 7th grade and 1 8th grade student was placed to 9th grade. This lesson will be repeated each year because quality transition planning is achieved when the process begins early in the 8th grade school year and the counselors support the students through the entire high school transition process. Because of the success of this lesson and the supported mandated 8th grade activity, we will continue this program each year.
Overall we concluded that these lessons were successful in fulfilling our vision that all students can achieve promotion and our mission that all students are challenged to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to become lifelong learners.