In creating program goals, we felt that to promote the success of all students it was important to establish a behavioral goal committed to decreasing all suspensions. However, in creating our School Data Profile we found areas in which behavioral gaps existed that needed to be addressed. For example, the Class A (most serious) offence of fighting ranked among the highest in frequency.
Of the 79 fighting related incidents in 2015-2016 that resulted in out of school suspension 32 involved 9th grade (2019 cohort) students. Upon taking a closer look at individual incidents using school level incident reports and the LDS it was revealed that 9 female students and 1 transgender student accounted for more than 62% of all fighting related suspensions in the 9th grade. This data revealed that compared to other grade levels the 9th grade had a higher rate of students suspended two or more times for fighting. Additionally, the data shows an overrepresentation of females in this area suggesting a behavior gap.
We determined that this group of students would be targeted for a series of interventions at the start of the 2016-2017 school year facilitated by their academic counselors Desire DeSoto and K-Cel Pawn-Kalilikane. K-Cel was chosen to co-run the closing the gap action plan because she, with a team of other WHS staff and administrators, participated in an on-going, 3-year, complex-wide RTI cohort run by Diana Browning-Wright. During these sessions K-Cel received training on tier 2 research-based interventions which she later shared with the department. She gained an understanding of how to use intervention matching tools to match appropriate interventions to specific problematic behaviors. Individualized Behavior Contract, Check-in/Check-out and small groups were 3 of such interventions best suited to address the problematic behaviors of the targeted 10 students. Small group activities provided students a safe place to learn and practice coping skills, build self-confidence and self-respect. They also allowed students to create positive relationships with each other as well as trusted adults on campus. All teachers participated in 17 Proactive Classroom Management Strategies professional development to help teachers develop positive strategies for addressing behavior in the classroom.
Perception data shows that an increase in beliefs and skills occurred across all Mindsets and Behaviors. M.3 and B.SMS.7 were chosen because they are the Mindsets and Behaviors the counseling department selected to instill in all students. B.SS.2, 3 and 9 were also selected because we felt this group of students may have fallen into the ‘gap’ because of a lack of support in these areas. Our belief was that if these students could improve upon their beliefs and skills in these areas they would catch up to their peers, closing the behavioral gap.
Behavioral outcome data demonstrated the success of the interventions. Suspension rates decreased from 408 students in 2015-2016 to 302 in 2016-2017. Incidents resulting in suspensions decreased in 2016-2017 to 20 as compared to 32 in the previous year. None of the participating students were involved in incidents from when interventions began in September through the end of the 2016-2017 school year. We intend to continue to track these students next year to see the long-term effects of the interventions and to determine what follow-up interventions may need to be used.
Based on the positive data outcomes we will continue to use these interventions with students struggling with similar behavioral issues. Counselors will make improvements to the Check-in/Check-out delivery by having the check-in mentor follow-up with students that do not check-in through classroom visits and phone calls home. This will be implemented at the start of next school year. We will also modify the Individualized Behavior Contract by giving students a survey to determine appropriate individualized incentives. Perception data collected through the pre- and post-test showed a high number of neutral responses in statements 4 and 5. To gather data more accurately statement 4 will be written as two items: “I can treat myself respectfully when I am frustrated” and “I can treat other with respect when I am frustrated”. Statement 5 will be written as two items: “I have good relationships with peers” and “I have good relationships with adults in school”. The follow-up questions, “Who is an adult you have a good relationship with?” and “What has this adult done to make you feel this way?” will also be asked. This will determine if the interventions helped students create positive relationships with both groups and will provide data on the effectiveness of the 17 Proactive Classroom Management Strategies.