Our goal of small groups is to assist students with developing awareness of interpersonal issues, to develop strategies and skills to positively impact their school achievement and to increase appropriate social interaction skills. At the high school level we spend most of our time with individual student planning, so we hold groups as an intervention to address our program goals and in response to our chosen ASCA mindsets and behaviors, and in response to additional data from administration, school staff, parents, students, and other stakeholders. This year our small groups were developed in response to our program goals and in response to needs brought to us by administration, our advisory board, and our Student Assistance Counselor. Those needs were stress management, safe relationships, and girl aggression concerns.
After topics were determined, we analyzed our ASCA Planning Tool and selected mindsets/behaviors that matched each group's purpose. Next, we utilized data to identify students who would benefit from additional support, selecting students who would be best served through small-group intervention. Prior to the first/introductory group sessions, counselors met and screened students to confirm that the group experience would be the most effective intervention strategy.
The Strengthening Success Group was selected as the highlighted group because it was launched in direct response to one of our program goals. We decided to focus our small group on our academically struggling 10th grade African American males because that was the largest group. We also felt that 10th grade is the “forgotten” class. When looking at our counseling student log-in sheet for the previous school year, we noticed that sophomores were less likely to come down to see their counselor than other grade levels. We felt one reason for this is that they have acclimated to high school after being here for a year, but that they are still far enough away from graduation that they don’t have as many questions/concerns as our juniors and seniors. We decided to seek these students out and provide them the support that they need to be successful.
The group was led by Jamie Sherwell and Corina Krishnan and developed to address and support the academic needs of some of our African American male students. Our African American male students represent our biggest gap group specifically in the area of math. At the end of semester 1, we ran grade data and found that we had 51 African American Males failing one or more core clas- 21 were 10th grade students. 18 of the 21 students had math as one of their failing core classes so we
decided to have this be our target population for our group. We invited all 18 students and had 8 students who agreed to participate. All 8 male students attended 6, 45 minutes sessions as well as an after school tutoring session at least once a week for 6 weeks. The lesson plans for the group were designed to be age appropriate and to align with the ASCA Mindsets identified with this age group. Jamie and Corina used the curriculum of the Men Passionately Pursuing Purpose (MP3), which facilitates the empowerment of Black male high school student-athletes and adjusted the lesson plans accordingly to meet the direct needs of the students. We saw an overall increase of 42% in the students GPA from Q2 to Q4 but an average decrease of 17% in math grades from Q3 to Q4. However, 5 out of the 8 students ended up passing all their core subjects at the end of Q4. The three other students failed their math class but did pass their other core subjects.
Data revealed that 8 out of the 8 students passed enough to be promoted to 11th grade. 5 of the students did not pass their math class but 2 were able to retake it over the summer in order to keep on track. This intervention demonstrates the need for young African-American males to have a positive support structure to help them to be successful and to encourage the belief that they are capable of being successful. In the future, we plan to collect the data earlier, incorporate more sessions addressing ways to get back on track, adding individual time with each student, inviting the involvement of parents/guardians and extending the length of the intervention. While the extra support of the group and connection to tutoring helped tremendously, we recognize these students also received a lot of individual academic support that also played a role in the student's academic success.