Our closing the gap activities reflected our strategic response to discrepancies in outcome data as defined through grade reports, attendance, and behavior. We are committed to equity for all students, and that is why we carefully analyzed quarterly achievement outcome data to identify and respond to the needs of our students. For example, in Fall 2016, Dr. McCollor, and counselors started to look at achievement data for students who did not achieve passing grades in required core credit classes in grades 6-12 (received N’s). We accessed our data from Infinite Campus grade reports and our school-wide School Improvement Plan. We noticed that after two quarters of the school year, 220 students had failed 1 or more core class. When we disaggregated the data by ethnicity we found our Black students had the highest percentage of 3 or more failing grades at 17%. Our goal was “By June 2017, identified students in grades 6-12 will decrease failing grades (N's) by 50% from 220 to 110 as monitored through Check and Connect.”
The activities and interventions were chosen because they were best practice, evidence based or research informed.
We included the following interventions: 6-12 Core Counseling Curriculum (Academic), Teacher and Parent Consultations, Staff Development sessions for teachers on Preparing Students for Graduation and Beyond, Counselor participation in SAT (Student Assistance Team). For example, grade level counselors presented classroom lessons quarterly that related to academic achievement. Case in point, the Grade 6 lesson “Study Skills” (M2; B-LS 3; B-SMS 10), and Grade 7 SMART goals (M5, B-LS 7) lesson reached all students. Secondly, counselors administered small group counseling around student success as demonstrated in Mr. Walker’s “The Future Is Now” group (M2, B-LS3, B-SMS 5) where students built upon his classroom lesson and worked on time management, organization and study skills . Lastly, we implemented Check and Connect which is a research and evidence based program through the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Check and Connect also tied into our ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors (M2, B-LS 3, 7, B-SMS 5). Essentially, the students selected had a high probability of not passing required core classes in the future. Letters were sent home to the parents of these students, informing them about the Check and Connect Program. Parents and students who agreed to take part in the Check and Connect program met with their individual school counselor to create a plan. Each counselor had 5-10 students in their intervention and met with students individually, weekly though the quarter. Students were placed on a score range with Beginning (3 or more failing grades), Developing (1-2 failing grades), Proficient (D’s or better), Exceeding (C’s or better). Data showed that 35% of students moved at least one level and 66% of students moved into Proficient or Exceeding. When we disaggregated the data by ethnicity we found our Asian students made the greatest increase at 46%. 22% of Asian students are now receiving D’s or better and 24% are receiving C’s or better. We are proud to announce that by the end of 2016 we exceeded our program goal and students were able to decrease failing grades by over 50%.
The data results from post surveys will help us deliver the interventions more effectively in the future. For example, as we analyzed the effectiveness of our achievement outcome data and would like to continue this intervention with more students. The data suggests that individual interventions focused on increasing students’ achievement does positively impact the number of core classes failed and impacts overall academic performance as indicated by increases in term GPA, decreased behavior referrals, and increased daily attendance.
Moving forward we have made the decision about which interventions and activities to continue. Closing the gap is our most important work. We feel so strongly about this work, and increasing core classes, that we had a program goal in place for the 2016-2017 school year and will continue this goal for 2017-2018 focusing on gaps in achievement, attendance and behavior outcome data. We are driven by a high standard of equity for all students, and we will continue to add interventions and activities to our closing the gap action plan through every mode of delivery including core curriculum, small group, and individual work with students.