The small group component has been revised to respond reviewer request, as implications are now more developed and reflect adjustments to the plan.
Several small group sessions took place during the 2016-2017 school year. From working with scholars with social skill issues to working with fifth grade scholars at risk of being retained to working with girls with low self-esteem, I was content with meeting these scholars academic, social/emotional, and career needs. Groups were created using data from a variety of sources such as academic achievement report cards, behavioral referrals, and attendance reports. For instance, 30% of scholars on an IEP required counseling as a related service for social skills. 11 scholars were referred to counseling for anger management, and other scholars were referred for small groups by teachers, administration and parents for small groups such as empowerment, friendship skills, self control, and organization to name a few. Each sessions consisted of 4-6 scholars and we met between 20-30 minutes on a bi-weekly basis.
For the past couple of years, there has been an increase of kindergarten scholars missing more that 5 days during the first marking period. During the 2015-2016 school year, 7 kindergarten scholars fit this criterion and 3 of those scholars missed over 20 days of school during the course of the school year. Therefore, I knew I wanted to intervene as much as possible to ensure kindergarten scholars attended school regularly. Six kindergarten scholars started out the 2016-2017 school year with 5 or more absences. I worked with these scholars bi-weekly in small groups from November to May. Because 2 scholars had 10 or more absences, our Pupil Personnel Worker (PPW) got involved with these two cases to address possible truancy issues with the parents of these scholars. Response to Intervention (RtI) meetings were held for both scholars to come up with strategies to improve these scholars’ attendance. One scholar moved after the first semester. Four scholars improved attendance greatly. And one scholar did not miss any days second quarter, but continued with same pattern by missing over 5 days second and third quarter. This scholar will be monitored through RTI next school year. The other scholar in RTI improved his attendance and was released from RTI in the spring.
While working with these scholars several methods were used to improve the attendance levels of these scholars. Pre and post surveys were taken by scholars and parents. Attendance letters were sent home informing parents of the number of absences and tardies scholars had on file. RTI meetings were held with parents, classroom teacher, and PPW in attendance. Needless to say, small groups were held with a focus on setting goals, increasing self-esteem/self-confidence in an effort to reflect the mindset and behaviors of improving their sense of belonging in the school environment and building their self-confidence in ability to succeed. These scholars also had the task of tracking their attendance on a weekly basis. This allowed scholars to analyze how often they were absent or tardy to school. As we met bi-weekly, we were able to discuss reasons for their absences or tardies to school. Outcome data shows that overall, all but one scholar improved with attendance. Also, report card grades and RTI meetings reveal that the scholar who missed more days than the others struggled academically. This particular scholar was often shifted between mom and dad. When this scholar was with dad, his attendance and academics improved, but when with mom, his academics declined. Implications for the future include getting parents to understand that attendance is equally important for a kindergarten scholar as it is for scholars in upper grade levels. As when scholars are absent or continuously tardy, they are missing valuable classroom instruction.
The outcome data clearly supported that there was an improvement in our scholars’ attendance, academic, career and social development. The data reveals that having small groups annually had a positive impact on our scholars needs. Pre and post data show that our scholars now have a confidence in their grades, skills, and knowledge. Checking in with these scholars to ensure their success is essential.
I have been sharing and will continue to share all small group data with our leadership team, staff, advisory council, and district administration in a quarterly and yearly report.