Two Curriculum Action Plan lessons targeted the goal of reducing discipline referrals: Assertive Communication for 6th grade and Meeting Expectations for each grade.
Student communication skills are held to a high standard at GMS. First semester (before explicit instruction in assertive communication) 67% (n=16) of all 6th grade discipline referrals (n=24) resulted from students not using assertive communication skills. Two weeks before the lesson, five out of six total referrals related to lack of assertive communication. During the two weeks immediately following the lesson, 6th graders only received two discipline referrals total--a 67% decrease in the number of referrals overall. One post-lesson referral, or 50%, was for communication skills. Long-term results showed a similar trend. Twenty-eight out of 51 referrals (55%) received by 6th graders during the second semester were for inappropriate communication skills. Student perception data for this lesson were largely positive. Students demonstrated an understanding of assertive communication (37 out of 39 students), the skills necessary for using assertive communication (35 out of 39 students), and reported valuing assertive communication in their day-to-day lives (all 39 students). One reason for the large shift in student attitudes about the value of assertive communication may be due to the use of the word “assertive” specifically. This was a new vocabulary word for a majority of students. Asking questions about the importance of each assertive communication skill separately may reduce this discrepancy in the future. Causation cannot be proven between participating in this lesson and receiving fewer discipline referrals. However, based on the positive data results, in the future 6th grade students will receive assertive communication training within the first six weeks of school.
The lesson reviewing GMS behavior expectations was delivered to every student attending GMS. Initial perception data indicated 100% of students clearly understood at least three expectations for student behavior at GMS and were able to demonstrate appropriate behaviors. Long-term outcome data did not yield positive results. During the 2016-2017 school year, students received substantially more referrals second semester (n=123) than first semester (n=59). Due to the large increase in referrals between semesters, students may benefit from a review of expectations in the spring semester. During the 2017-2018 school year students will receive 2 lessons reinforcing expectations and referrals will be monitored to assess their impacts. Compared to 2015-2016 (n=173), students received 10 more discipline/behavior referrals in 2016-2017 (n=183). A change in administrators between the two school years may invalidate this comparison because they had different policies on referring students.
There was also a marked drop in student achievement between the first three quarters of the year and the last quarter. From 16,15, and 16 students earning D’s and F’s quarters one through three respectively, 21 students earned a D or an F during the final quarter. In addition to a spring review of expectations, 10 of the 21 students who earned a D or an F fourth quarter will be taking an extra Study Skills class in 2017-2018 to support student achievement. All 21 students will also be participating in academic planning during first quarter of the 2017-2018 school year.
As a result of the spring 2015-2016 Advisory Council, more college and career curriculum was added to the school counseling program this year. Informative small groups were provided during lunch and 7th grade received a lesson on career values. Student perception data, in addition to engagement and voluntary statements by students during the class, indicated students enjoyed this lesson. One hundred percent of students asked to provide 4 work values to the class were able to do so. The majority of students (n=31) found a career of interest corresponding to the value they identified as most important to them. Outcome data indicates the number of students on the down list in the two weeks after the lesson were greater than or equal to (n=18 and n=13 respectively) the number of students on the down list the week before the lesson (n=13). This data may have been influenced by a large science project being graded (all 18 of the students on the down list the first week after the lesson had a D or an F in Science). However, future lessons will stress the importance between academic skills and necessary skills for career success. Positive stakeholder feedback at all levels means college and career success will be further integrated into the core curriculum.