This closing-the-gap goal was written after reviewing school data and supporting information. Activities and interventions were selected based on research supporting the need for comprehensive school counseling programs and a two-year pilot academic development unit created by the current school counselor for the school. The evaluation of the activities and interventions for this goal provided valuable insight for implications for future programming.
School Data & Supporting Information:
Students at-risk for failure in language arts or mathematics were identified by 6th grade report card achievement data from 2015-16 based on final grade averages of 75 or lower.
In addition, teachers and parents of students in this grade were given the opportunity to refer students to the school counselor for participation in the small group academic success group.
Results from the Spring, 2015 School Counseling Needs Assessment indicated that 75% of students, 90% of staff members and 82% of parents surveyed “Strongly Agree” or “Agree” that a “Study Skills/Academic Success” Counseling Services Small Group would be a meaningful experience.
Research to support this closing-the-gap goal:
Sink & Stroh in their article “Raising achievement test scores of early elementary school students through comprehensive school counseling programs” (Professional School Counseling, June, 2003) cite the need for schools to “… realign their counseling interventions and services within the context of a comprehensive school counseling program or CSCP…”
Brigman & Campbell in their article “Helping students improve academic achievement and school success behavior” (Professional School Counseling, December, 2006) note that “the combined school counselor interventions of group counseling and classroom guidance were associated with a positive impact on student achievement and behavior.”
Establishing Activities & Interventions:
Interventions were selected based on research to support interventions for students at-risk for failure, success of the counselor-created academic development unit, and collaboration with administration and teachers for including additional instruction time for 7th grade students.
An Academic Success Small Group was designed to support the targeted at-risk group of students. Sessions included study skills (use of highlighters, making an outline and using mnemonic devices) understanding problem solving, and the importance of maintaining regular attendance, among other areas.
An Academic Development Unit was provided to all 7th grade students. This unit consisted lessons that addressed specific content areas: Knowledge of Self as a Successful Learner; Knowledge of the Relationship Between Academic Learning and College/Career-Readiness Skills; and Knowledge of Academic Learning and How it Applies to the World of Work, Life at Home, and as Partners in the Community. During this unit, 7th grade students identified their learning style, researched study skill techniques, reviewed their report card data and standardized testing scores, and set goals in the areas of achievement, attendance, and school involvement.
Additional tutoring support for all 7th grade students was also offered before school after school for one period a week.
Implications for the Future:
Students who participated in the Academic Success Small Group had an increase of 3.75 points in final GPA’s in Language Arts and an average increase of 13.25 points in final GPA’s in Mathematics from 6th to 7th grade. Outcome data indicates that the Academic Success Group had a positive impact on student achievement.
Although teacher perception data from the Academic Development Unit yielded positive results, student perception data from the Academic Development Unit would provide additional meaningful information. Questions to consider would include: “Did this unit help you understand ways to be a successful learner?” or “Provide an example of a specific study technique that would be successful with your learning style.” This would also provide information on the knowledge and skills that were acquired while participating in the Academic Development Unit and evaluate student engagement in the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success.
There was greater attendance during the after school tutoring sessions. Students reported they had difficulty getting to school early for the morning sessions. It would be beneficial to survey the students and parents prior to organizing before and/or after school tutoring sessions to see which session time would be most convenient for the students and their families.
Students that participated in all four interventions had a slightly larger increase in final grade point averages changes in both Language Arts and Mathematics when compared to students who only participated in three out of four interventions. (Language Arts: 0.42 points higher and Mathematics: 1. 59 points higher) Therefore, it is reasonable to draw a conclusion that these interventions had a positive impact on student achievement and students who participated in all four interventions had a greater increase in achievement.