Each school year, my school district requires school counselors to create three Closing the Gap Action Plans. Each of the plans targets a specific and measurable goal as well as tailored strategies to implement to help close students' achievement gaps. After conducting a data analysis of the student population at my school, I located three barriers that affect students’ learning. I designed my program based on the findings from the data. Additionally, I selected three mindset and behavior standards for each SMART goal to develop counseling activities that will assist in closing the achievement gap.
One of the goals that I selected was for the identified 3rd-grade students that were overage and retained due to failing the reading Florida State Assessment (FSA) to make 10% learning gains on the 2016-2017 FSA Reading Test. It is a state requirement that all 3rd-grade students pass the Reading FSA as well as pass their academic courses to promote to 4th grade. After collecting the FSA scores of the students that were retained, I arranged the scores in order so that I could locate the median score to use as the baseline. The baseline FSA Reading score was 271. My goal was for the students to improve their score by 10%. Therefore, the target FSA Reading score was 298.
To reach my goal, I developed and implemented a tiered level support system to ensure that the targeted group of students met promotion requirements by the end of the year. I taught test-taking strategies and study skills to all of the 3rd-grade students using the Student Success Skills Curriculum. I provided additional Student Success Skills lessons to reinforce the test-taking strategies and study skills in a small group setting to the identified group of students as my tier two intervention. I offered tier three interventions to the targeted group of students in the form of individual academic advising to teach them how to create goals and track their progress. Additionally, I referred student cases to the Multi-tier System of Supports Team (MTSS) when the targeted group of students showed signs of little to no learning growth on District Benchmark Tests, such as I-Ready Reading and Achieve 3000 and when they earned a low grade in their core reading subject.
With the multi-tier levels of support systems in place, the interventions proved to be effective with this sub-group of students. By the end of the 2016-2017 school year, four out of the ten students in the target group earned 10% or higher learning gains on the FSA Reading Test. One student increased their reading level from a level one to a level four; three other students increase their reading levels from a level one to a level three. However, all students made some learning gains and improved their achievement level by at least one level. Therefore, they all earned a promotion to the fourth grade.