Small groups are a level of support designed to actualize the Woodland Counseling vision “all students have access to the supports and skills needed to develop positive relationships, maximize their potential, and take pride in their accomplishments”
Grade level teams were invited to utilize RTI team time to review behavior screener data, discipline data, and classroom observations and formulate a plan for students in need of additional support through small group instruction. As a result I provided opportunities for students to participate in small group services. The topics covered were; positive friendship skills, emotional regulation, self-control, improving attendance and developing responsible playground behavior.
Last year our state legislature passed a new attendance law requiring a home/school conferences with families struggling with attendance. Recently our state was ranked 2nd worst in the nation for chronic absenteeism at 16% of students meeting the definition. My school district has a rate of 18% and rate for our building was 7.7%. My initial work in this area involved gathering and evaluating our school attendance data and presenting it to staff and the advisory committee. Reviewing this data led to the selection of the goal: “By June 2017, there will be a 25% reduction in the number of students with 18-35(tier 2) total absences for the school year. To reach that goal we focused on developing an effective system for gathering data and meeting with families including the development of a barriers to good attendance form to use with parents. Ideally, a system of tier 1 interventions would have been a foundation, but during conversation staff felt that there was enough individual work happening in classrooms to address a positive attendance message. The data from our current school year showed otherwise with a 3%increase in the number of students with tier 2 attendance rates, the goal was a 25% reduction. This data has led to important conversations and a plan for monthly messaging delivered by classroom teachers supported by our parent teacher organization as well as recognition for daily 100% on time attendance by classrooms.
Our Resource teacher serves 3- 5th grade girls who were struggling to access the curriculum due to absenteeism by all three members of the group. We gathered their attendance data and the girls were invited to group. The group met weekly for 8 weeks during a portion of their regularly scheduled resource room intervention time. Utilizing this time provided the resource room teacher with the language and skills to reinforce the lessons. While we touched on many topics, my core objective was for the girls to develop a sense of belonging in the school (M3) all three are quite quiet and seen frequently alone on the playground, and to develop self confidence in their ability to succeed (M2) each had indicated being behind and struggling was a reason for their frequent absences. The lessons selected have a strong focus in these two areas. As a group their average daily attendance rate was 52% prior to the intervention. That rate increased to 73% at the end of the intervention. The perception data showed the prior to the group the students valued school, yet had poor attendance. I was particularly pleased with the increased scores on the question “I like school” this was a core goal of the group tied to the development of Mindset 3. Each of them reported a reduction in the area ‘some things at school are hard’ resulting from the focus on developing self confidence in their ability to succeed Mindset 2. An increase in the area ‘getting up for school is easy’ and an increase in their academic performance during this time period resulted from a focus on the behaviors of goal setting (LS 7) and personal responsibility (SM1). the girls are significantly behind their peers academically and we spent one lesson dedicated to developing strategies and connections for getting help (SS 3). One student made measurable growth at their instructional level of grade 1. One student moved from an instructional level of grade 1 to grade 2 and the final student was able to end the year demonstrating mastery in several grade 3 math units. Reducing chronic absenteeism rates will continue to be a focus schoolwide this year. With a plan for tier 1 messaging and recognition, a system for meeting/goal setting with tier 2 families and a tier 3 small group curriculum that impacted attendance rates, I feel confident we will reduce the chronic absenteeism rate in our building this school