At SGMS our counseling department’s intention is to be proactive in meeting the needs of our students across all grade levels as stated in our vision, mission, and beliefs statements. When preparing the small-group action plan, our team reviewed school-wide and grade level data on achievement, attendance, and behavior from multiple sources to include: student needs assessments, minute meetings, grade reports, and teacher feedback. After reviewing this data, the ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors, and having in depth conversations we were able to decide where our student needs were for small groups and complete our Action Plan by implementing:
*6th grade academic success group with the goal to increase achievement
*7th grade academic success group with the goal to increase achievement
*7th/8th grade LGBTQ group with the goal to increase self and social awareness to decrease discipline referrals
*8th grade STEP (students in transition empowerment program) group with the goal to increase achievement, increase attendance, and decrease behavior
*8th grade anxiety group with the goal to decrease missed school days due to illness/somatic symptoms
*8th grade boys group to increase achievement, attendance and to decrease behavior
The group participants were selected from the data sources mentioned above and also through individual student/counselor conversations. For example, the LGBTQ group was formed by students who identified themselves to their counselors during the previous school year. The participants for both of the 6th and 7th grade academic success groups were identified by achievement reports showing students who had two or more grades below a “D” in a core academic class.
Our small group results report shows data from the 7th grade academic success group ran by the 7th grade counselor, Emme Mancuso. This group targeted ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors:
M 2 Self-confidence in ability to succeed, B-LS 3 Use time-management, organizational and study skills, and B-SS 3 Create relationships with adults that support success. The overall goal of this group was for the 13 seventh graders to increase their achievement, specifically their GPA from 1st semester to the end of the 2nd semester.
After reviewing the initial data from grade reports, reviewing ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors, and reviewing the pre-test data, Mrs. Mancuso was able to revise and finalize the content in the lesson plans for the 6 session group.
At the end of the school year, the outcome data showed that 38% of the group members increased their GPA, 46% of the group members saw a decrease in their GPA, and 15% of group members saw no change in their GPA. Overall, the groups GPA decreased by .32 points. The overall implications of the group showed that the group worked really well for the students who had a large amount of failing classes; however, it was not successful in increasing all group member’s grades.
Overall, we were pleased with this small group curriculum and delivery. We learned that we needed to explore more about why students were experiencing low grades, and have our group sessions be more targeted. We are thinking about dividing our groups around needs instead of grade level in the next school year, but we need to consult with teachers and administration to determine if this would be practical and developmentally appropriate. After reviewing this groups data, we have started brainstorming other interventions/supports for students who need to increase their academic performance, such as peer tutoring and/or teacher mentor programs. After discussing the outcomes with our administrative team, we also broke down the data to determine which classes/teachers resulted in more failing grades. This data showed that due to a change in a Language Arts teacher (who was out on maternity leave), affected 9 of our group members. The LA substitute gave 50% more failing grades than the regular teacher, possibly explaining the lower GPA among students. Due to this discovery, we are currently discussing the benefits of a small group aimed towards students that have a difficult time with flexibility and changing expectations. Additionally, we learned that Art and Health classes resulted in a large amount of failing grades (dependent on the teacher). These classes are semester long classes, 6 of our group members changed into these classes during semester 2, possibly resulting in lower grades than their previous first semester electives courses. One final piece of data that we learned from reviewing the group’s outcome data was that students with failing grades who attended the group were more likely (42%) than others with failing grades to have a GPA greater than 2.0 (passing).