Throughout the 2016-2017, the counselors conducted several small groups across all grade levels. The counselors typically collaborated with our school social worker and school psychologists when running the groups. The areas in which our small groups focused on were attendance, social skills, self-esteem, stress/anxiety and lunch bunches on a weekly basis. Student participants were referred through our needs assessments students completed at the start of the school year, counselor, teacher or parent recommendations. After reviewing the data from our needs assessments, each counselor created a small group action plan to outline the groups that we would like to run during the school year. We had to make some revisions to the plan as the year progressed, but we were able to accommodate the groups and provide support to our students. Within our groups, we addressed many ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors in the academic, career, and social/emotional domains.
As mentioned previously in the application, we split up the RAMP application and duties. Therefore, we chose for the 8th grade counselor, Patti Bagdasarian, to complete the small group portion of the process to focus on decreasing student’s absences. Research shows that absenteeism can have an impact on student achievement, negative behaviors, and dropout rates (National Center for Educational Statistics). We had 44 students with a total of 26 or more absences throughout the 2017-2018 school year (15%). We chose to target a smaller population from this list of students and decided we would look at a specific grade level. Because she works with our 8th grade population, we invited 8th grade students who missed more than 15% of the 1st and 2nd quarters to participate. Eight students from the 8th grade were invited to participate, based on the school’s attendance data, and four parents gave permission for their child to participate.
The group met during the 3rd quarter during the 2017-2018 school year. Lessons and activities included students creating their group rules, and their own goals related to attendance and academic achievement. Counselors monitored their status throughout the group sessions. Overall, we felt that we had a great amount of success with this group. We monitored grades and attendance each week and completed the activities to help the students see that their attendance at school had a direct impact on their success in the classroom. As you will see on the attached Small Group Results Report, three of the students decreased their absences during the group and three decreased their number of tardies. One important thing to note that impacted the students and their progress towards the small group goal was the fact that two of the four students experienced significant mental health concerns either right before group began or during the group time frame (February to April) that resulted in missed time from school for therapy and psychiatry appointments. These appointments were very important for the students to attend. The families of these students worked closely with the 8th grade counselor to keep her informed of the students mental health status, attendance, and any interventions that were being pursued with outside providers. Due to these factors, our data isn’t as strong as we would like, but there was still positive growth towards our goal in three of the four students for both absences and tardies.