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Lamar Louise Curry Middle School (2018)

Miami, FL

Closing the Gap

REVISED SECTION

Bridging our students’ achievement gap is part of our school counseling mission and program focus. During the summer Cohort, counselors Dr. Matamala and Ms. Ortega, in collaboration with the Leadership team and Curriculum Leaders, analyzed the school data reports on achievement, attendance and behavior using the Early Warnings System (EWS) report, final grade reports and Standardized Testing scores to identify discrepancies among student groups. The data indicated that 35 students failed Language Arts or Math and 22 students failed 2 or more courses. In alignment with our School Improvement Plan, Goal 2 of identifying at risk students to provide support and intervention to increase achievement, we decided to focus on students on the EWS with retention indicators and any other student failing one or more courses at the 1st quarter report. At the end of the first quarter, we identified our target subgroups: 38 students (8th grade), 9 students (7th grade), and 30 students (6th grade). Digging deeper into the data, we discovered that of these 77 students, there was a gender disparity across grade, race/ethnicity, and ELL/SPED students who were failing; i.e. 64 students (83%) were boys and 13 students (17%) were girls. We chose the following activities and specific strategies to address this gap, support our overall program goal to increase the passing rate, and help ALL students become more self-aware and confident in using their abilities to their fullest to achieve high-quality results/ outcomes (M 5).



1. In an effort to deliver our interventions more effectively with so many students, we held large group sessions focused on learning about self to identify strengths, organization and time management, and goal setting with emphasis in the here and now. This intervention is supported by research by Clark (2009) on “Middle School Boys Underachievement” and the LINKS Program from West Virginia Dept. of Education. Students were separated by grade level and asked to complete the Student Services Intervention Plan, identifying specific learning behaviors for academic success (B-LS 3). These plans served as behavior contracts, as students wrote out their intended plans for change by completing “I will ___” statements.



2. We held individual planning sessions for seven students failing advanced courses and 9 students failing SPED courses. These focus of these sessions was to determine whether their inadequate progress was due to a lack of ability or effort. These individualized interventions allowed us to reinforce the importance of a growth mindset approach to student learning (B-LS 8) and to make informed decisions about who needed a schedule change and whose progress needed to be monitored more closely.



3. We enlisted stakeholder support with parent-teacher conferences (B-SS 3). Our list of target students (Academic Monitoring List) was shared with teachers in January to enlist their help in monitoring and encouraging student progress. We prioritized parent-teacher-student conferences for students failing 2 or more courses. These conferences revealed an important barrier to learning: student distractibility. In response, the counselors scheduled a Parent Workshop on the topic: Supporting your Inattentive Child. To increase parent attendance, this workshop was held in the late afternoon, so working parents could attend. We also held a mandatory Academic review meeting for students and parents to discuss course recovery options, including summer school and virtual classes.





The Closing the Gap results show a decrease in the failure rate across all grade levels, as well as a decrease in the gender disparity. Final grade reports indicated only 22 students (1.9%) failing one or more classes; a decrease of from 77 students (6.5% of the student population) identified at risk of failure after the first grade report. In addition, there was a decrease in the gender disparity of at-risk students: with 83% boys and 17% girls after the first grade report, down to 73% boys and 27% girls in the final grade report.



We analyzed the data to make decisions on improving our interventions. We plan to schedule parent-teacher-student conferences earlier in the school year to ensure parents know how to monitor grades and support student progress. We will continue teaching students about the Growth Mindset and the value of making their own plans to achieve their goals. The counseling team decided to include the Student Services Intervention Plan,” as a page in every student agenda for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year. The use of this plan helps increase students’ self-confidence in their ability to succeed (M 2) and helps students assume responsibility for their own progress (B-SMS 1) as they address barriers to

Goal: By the end of the 2016-2017 school year, the number of sixth to eighth grade students failing one or more courses at the end of the first nine weeks will decrease by 30 percent from 77 students (first quarter grade report) to 54 students (final grade report)with attention to gender disparity.

Target Group: Students who are failing one of more course in the 6th-8th grades as indicated by Early Warning System (EWS) Report

Data Used to Identify Students: EWS, Miami Dade County Schools Academic Grade Monitoring Report, School Final Grade Report

School Counselor(s): Mariela Matamala and Patricia Ortega

ASCA Domain, Mindsets & Behaviors Standard(s): Domain- Academic

Type of Activities to be Delivered in What Manner?: Large Group Activity 1:What is my Style Large Group Activity 2:Setting Future Goals Large Group Activity 3:Improving Organizational Skills Large Group Activity 4:Note Taking Large Group Activity 5:Reality Check-The First Report Card Parent Workshops on Supporting your Inattentive child Parent Workshop on Helping your child with TESTING! Tutoring Sessions(before/after school and Saturdays) Ongoing progress monitoring sessions-Weekly and Quarterly

Process Data (Number of students affected): All students failing one or more courses 6th grade 30 students 7th grade 9 students 8th grade 38 students Total Students: 77

Perception Data (Surveys or assessments used): Pre- and post- test evaluation before lesson one and after the last lesson (five). The students answered the following yes/no questions: 1. I can identify my learning style. Pre-test Yes= 5/77 students (6.49%) Post-test Yes= 77/77 students (100%) 94% percent increase in knowledge 2. I know how to write a SMART goal. Pre-test Yes= 7/77 students (9.09%) Post-test Yes= 68/77 students (88.31%) 79% percent increase in skill 3. I can name at least three ways to improve my organizational skills. Pre-test Yes= 22/77 students (28.57%) Post-test Yes= 71/77 students (92.21%) 64% percent increase in knowledge 4. I know three strategies to improve learning. Pre-test Yes= 15/77 students (19.48%) Post-test Yes= 69/77 students (89.51%) 70% percent increase in knowledge

Outcome Data (Achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data): Pre-intervention: First Quarter Grades 77 students failing 6th grade= 30:25 boys, 5 girls 7th grade= 9:7 boys, 2 girls 8th grade = 38: 32 boys, 6 girls Overall: 64 boys- 83% of 77 13 girls- 17% of 77 Post-intervention Final Report Card- 22 students failing: 6th grade= 17: 14 boys, 3 girls 7th grade= 0 students 8th grade = 5: 2 boys, 3 girls Overall: 16 boys- 73% of 22 6 girls- 27% of 22

Implications: Our closing the gap intervention to address students failing one or more classes from the first quarter report card to the last report card shows great success. In October 2016, 7 percent (77 students) of our student population was failing one or more classes. In August 2017, only 2 percent (22 students) had failed a class and less than 1 percent (5 students) are retained. A gender disparity was evident in the first quarter data: 83% of the 77 were boys and 17% were girls. By Aug. 2017, with the help of our interventions, this gender gap closed a bit, with 73% of failing students being boys and 27% girls. Our Closing the Gap interventions included a multi-tiered approach to improve academic success: large group sessions focusing on organization and goal setting (B-LS- 3), individual planning sessions to ensure appropriate placement of students in advanced classes (B-LS 8), and stakeholder support (B-SS 3) as evidenced by Academic Monitoring list for teachers, parent teacher conferences, parent workshops, and an Academic Review Meeting on course recovery options. Some basic decisions were reached by the counseling team for 2017-2018 school year. 1. Use the September grade report as baseline rather than the October since patterns in academic placement may be discovered such as student misplaced in advanced classes. 2. Reach out to parents earlier in the year to educate them on the use of the Parent Portal as a monitoring tool. 3. Work more closely with teachers in assessing students’ lack of progress-whether ability or effort. 4. Include Growth Mindset lessons for students. 5. Work with PTSA to reward students who show progress. 6. Hold Academic Review meeting with parents & students earlier, during the third quarter, to explain the consequences of failing one or more classes and the course recovery options. While the results have a positive outlook, the negative impact of retention and failure should not be dismissed. In addition, we will continue to look for additional gaps in the data, including disparities based on gender, Students with disabilities (SPED) or English Language Learner (ELL) students.

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