The mission, vision, and goals of the SMS counseling department is advanced through our small group curriculum. As middle school counselors, a substantial amount of time is directed toward assisting individual students. So, we are very intentional about selecting the small groups that we run in the school year. Each counselor conducted the groups with their assigned grade level.
To achieve our Academic Program Goal (100% of a targeted group of students at-risk academically based on a County Repor) because they failed both Math and Language Arts first semester will pass their Math and Language Arts classes second semester), the counseling department created an Academic Success Small Group. We used the “ABC Report,” a report accessible through our Gwinnett County online portal, to determine which students to include in the group. The ABC report identifies students who are “at risk” or “in the bubble” in the areas of attendance (unexcused absences), behavior (discipline referrals), and course curriculum (test scores/ grades). The ABC report is also able to give us a subgroup analysis. In other words, the system analyzes each subgroup of our school population based on race, ethnicity, class setting, free/reduced lunch status, etc. Each grade level counselor invited the students in the most at-risk subgroup who had failed both Math and Language Arts first semester to be part of the group. The 6th grade group had 6 female Hispanic students on Free and Reduced Lunch; 7th grade had 8 male African American students on Free and Reduced Lunch, and 8th grade had 9 male African American students, on Free and Reduced Lunch. The students attended 6 sessions that addressed the following issues: Learning Styles, Goal Setting, Time Management, Organization, etc. The students took a 5 question pre- and post- test to assess their knowledge of the skills that would be taught during the group. The 6th grade group’s average pretest score was a 43%, which increased to 83.33% on the post-test. The 7th grade group’s average pretest score was a 40%, which increased to 72.5% on the post-test. The 8th grade group’s average pretest score was a 44.44%, which increased to 88% on the post-test. At the end of the group, we also administered a Group Evaluation to receive more in-depth feedback. All the students shared that they learned at least one new thing during the group and that the group was helpful or very helpful. We analyzed their final grades at the end of the semester in May. In 6th grade, the number of failing classes went from 12 to 2. In 7th grade, the number of failing classes decreased from 16 to 11. In 8th grade, the number of failing classes went from 18 to 10. Group attendance was much more consistent in the 6th grade group. However, 7th and 8th grade students did not attend the group as diligently and regularly. For the future, we plan on addressing group attendance each week and involving parents on the weekly lesson topics.
To achieve our Attendance Program Goal (to reduce the number of students with 10+ unexcused absences from the previous year by 40%), we conducted grade level attendance groups called the 20/20 Club. We used this title because it helps our students visualize perfect. There are (roughly) 4 weeks in each month and five school days in each week. So, in order to get their monthly attendance incentive, they had to be at school 20 out of 20 days. We had monthly group meetings with a lesson and we recognized the students with perfect attendance that month at the end of group. The lessons addressed the following: attendance policies and procedures at Shiloh Middle and in Gwinnett County, the importance of school attendance, goal setting, time management, stress management, etc. We gave the students a pre and post survey to see what knowledge they had on attendance policies in Gwinnett County Public Schools and at Shiloh Middle School. We had a total of 148 students in the 20/20 Club. These 148 students had a combined total of 2,198 unexcused absences in the 2015-2016 school year. At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, the number decreased to 1,298 - a 41% decrease!
The Shiloh Middle School counselors successfully addressed two of our program goals through small group counseling. Ideally, we would like our program to include more small groups. With the addition of a part time counselor in this school year, we are hopeful that we will be able to accomplish this goal.