The Palmer achievement gap intervention is one of our three program goals. This goal is tied to our school improvement plan of closing-the-gap for failing students and help prevent retention. Our “Success” program is also tied to our counseling mission of improving school achievement rates for all students. Focusing on ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors: Learning Strategies and Self-Management Skills, students gained knowledge to help them succeed academically in school.
When analyzing the data in January of 2015-2016, we saw an increase in students with potential failure rates. For the 2016-2017 school year, our school changed from Semester report cards to quarterly reports. At our principal’s request, the counselors identified failing students in the fall in the 2016-2017 school year as a result of the quarterly report card change. Changing to a quarterly reporting model proved to be highly effective in identifying and intervening earlier with failing students.
This intervention was chosen to close the achievement gap at Palmer Middle School because research continually shows that dropping out of school is a process that can start long before a student enters high school. By integrating ASCA Mindset: 6 Positive attitude towards learning, our goal was to help students turn around negative feelings about school and their own performance.
We disaggregated data reports using the failing grades report from our On-Track student profile system at grade reporting times to identify students who were failing two or more subjects. These students became our focus students to begin small group interventions.
We used intervention activities from the “Middle Grades Early Warning Intervention Monitoring Guides” published by the American Institutes for Research in Washington, DC. The parents of each identified student were sent an academic alert letter to bring awareness to their child’s academic standing. This letter also included information about ParentVue (where parents can view their child’s grades, attendance and missing assignments), teacher blogs and available tutoring. For students failing 3 or more classes, county retention letters were sent home to proactively warn parents and students of the academic criteria for being retained. At RTI meetings, failing students were discussed with the purpose of developing strategies for student improvement in all subjects. The counselors also communicated with teachers and case managers to ensure they were following the students IEP and 504 accommodations if applicable.
Additionally, each grade level counselor met individually with each “Success” student to bring their attention to the classes they were failing and complete the Academic Monitoring Form where students set goals to improve their study skills. Students were given a print out of what assignments they were missing and encouraged to communicate with their teachers regarding completing assignments. Each counselor also met with the “Success” students in a small group setting to assist with work completion, study skills and organization skills. Students supported one another and received positive feedback from the counselor.
Pre and post survey perception data showed improvement for 16.2% of 6th grade, 18% of 7th grade, and 21% of 8th grade. Pre-post survey questions were focused on effective study skills and their perception of their study habits in class. For example: by using their agenda, asking questions, and work completion.
Outcome data was measured in retention rates for the school year. 6th pre-group: 80 identified students, 6th post-group: 0 students were retained. 100% of 6th grade students were promoted to 7th grade. In 7th pre-group: 80 identified students. 7th post-group: 1 student was retained in 7th grade, and 99% promoted to 8th grade. In 8th grade pre-group: 214 identified students, 8th post group: 1 students placed and 99% promoted to 9th grade. Overall school-wide results were 99% of students earned promotion to the next grade.
The counselors were excited with the results of this year-long intervention. With only one student retained this was a successful program will continue this next year. Moving forward, we will consider including ASCA Mindset B-LS 5: Apply Media and Technology Skills by having students use their Career Cruising Learning Styles information more effectively in the classroom setting. Next year, we plan on printing a list of student’s Career Cruising learning styles for all classroom teachers so they are aware of their student’s unique learning style. Additionally, we would like to review the attendance report next year to see if there is a correlation to under-performing students and chronic absences.