Small group counseling is often utilized to address the needs of students who require specific skill building in a number of areas. Throughout the year, school data is reviewed to better understand where areas for growth exist. Additionally, needs assessments are considered along with teacher/parent consultations when small groups are created for our students.
Students who will benefit from small group counseling are referred by teachers, parents, a review of data, and the Response to Intervention process. The screening process takes into consideration areas of concern, students’ personalities when grouping, and grade level. A permission form is sent home with the students. Students must return their permission forms signed by a parent or guardian in order to participate in a small group. Most groups hold between 6 to 10 sessions depending on the needs of the students. Groups are held during both the fall and spring semesters for third through fifth grade and were run by Ms. Ferguson. Ms. Danish began running small groups in the spring semester due to being a part of the Specials rotation in the fall semester. The counseling team has advocated to adjust the schedule for specials (from one full semester, to half of each semester) in order to allow for small groups to be run in both the fall and spring for kindergarten, first, and second grade. Ms. Ferguson runs groups 3rd through 5th grade and Ms. Danish runs groups for kindergarten through second grades because we divided our case load by grade level.
At the beginning of the year, the Ferguson Elementary School Counseling team reviewed the previous year’s data and developed program goals in the areas of attendance, behavior, and academics. We felt that our academic goal and our behavior goal would benefit from small group intervention, whereas our attendance goal would be addressed through other programs and interventions.
We ran three small groups to help achieve our academic goal, improving math scores by one letter grade for 4th and 5th grade students who earned a D or U in the fall semester. While 4th and 5th grade are served by Ms. Ferguson, Ms. Danish ran one of the two 5th grade groups due to the amount of 5th grade students who earned a D or U in math. The lessons addressed study spaces, study skills, learning styles, test taking strategies, and stress management techniques. During the group process, 8 students moved, leaving our total at 22 students. Upon completion of the group, the pre and post test scores indicated 11 students showed improvement in study skills knowledge, 7 students stayed the same, and the rest had lower scores on the post test. The outcome data, students’ math grades in the Spring semester, showed only 9 students improved their yearly average math grade by one letter grade, which did not meet our goal of all students served in group improving their yearly average by at least one letter grade. Because of this, our group lessons and focus may need to be adjusted to better suit the needs of our students and have a greater impact on their math grades. We also will need to analyze other factors that could impact math scores and work with both teachers and parents to support student study skills.
We ran a total of 16 small groups based on behavior data, some of which worked towards achieving our goal of decreasing the number of African American boys with referrals. The students that were selected for these groups were chosen based on the number of behavior referrals they have received or by teacher referral for behavior. Ms. Danish ran nine groups that addressed behavior and Ms. Ferguson ran seven groups that addressed behavior. We saw an increase in behavior referrals for the school year. As mentioned, the counselors plan to advocate to adjust the specials rotation so that small groups can be conducted in the Fall to help serve as a preventative measure in the area of behavior.
In other group topics, Ms. Danish ran one second grade study skills group based on academic data and teacher referral and one self-confidence group based on teacher referral or referral from the RTI process. Ms. Ferguson ran 1 third grade study skills group based on academic data and teacher referral.