Counselors were excited about the small groups offered in 2016 – 2017. The Small-Group Action Plan included a small-group based on feedback from the Advisory Council regarding students needing assistance with college preparation, so counselors created a small-group for first generation college students. Seniors completed a survey asking if they qualified as a first generation college student and about their interest in participating in a small-group for college preparation.
The Small-Group Action Plan also reflects a small-group focused on achievement and goal-setting for retained 9th graders whose passing rate of courses was 45% in 2015 – 2016 and who were identified as at-risk based on the Texas At-Risk Indicator Code. Counselors chose to form and highlight this small-group because of the campus goal to increase achievement for at-risk students, for drop-out prevention, to help these students graduate on time, and to close an important achievement gap. The report showing retained 9th graders was used to invite students to the Carpe Diem group.
Counselors studied the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors and selected them according to the goal of helping the group develop skills to be successful. Content for the group began with a discussion of students’ academic struggles, successes and goal-setting with the content driven by the Mindsets and Behaviors of the student’s ability to succeed, self-motivation and self-direction to learning, and perseverance to achieve long and short-term goals. Students completed a goal-setting activity using a timeline aimed to highlight previous achievements, building their self-confidence, and to plan academic goals. Counselors helped students see they could work towards goals, applying self-motivation and direction to learning with this activity. Content also involved students completing a learning style inventory with a discussion to increase students’ understanding of their learning styles. Counselors worked to help students use their learning styles to feel confident about succeeding, to motivate and direct them on how to do better in school, and help them persevere and achieve goals. The Strengths Explorer inventory was given with a follow-up discussion to help students understand their strengths and how those strengths can help with their motivation and self-direction to persevere and achieve goals. Finally, the Do What You Are inventory helped students set long-term goals and connect short-term goals, like passing classes, to long-term career goals.
Perception data was collected during the first and last sessions. With the self-confidence in ability to succeed standard in mind, the surveys began with a question about students’ confidence in their ability to succeed. The last question asked about their confidence regarding the group impacting their ability to succeed. The two questions in between focused on students’ awareness of how to be successful, correlating with the self-motivation and self-direction to learning behavior standard. The surveys additionally included a question about the importance of working towards a goal, focusing on the behavior standard of perseverance to achieve goals.
The results report reveals a favorable outcome with 100% feeling moderately confident or higher about their ability to be successful on the post survey. The post survey also showed 100% reporting it is moderately or very important to work towards a goal until achieving the goal, demonstrating perseverance. Most significantly, retained 9th graders passed 86% of their classes compared to 45% in 2015 – 2016, helping to achieve a program goal. Counselors speculate the opportunities for self-exploration and discussion of successes and failures were helpful and recommend using such activities in the future.
The group could not be implemented earlier in the school year due to time constraints, such as counselors holding individual senior interviews and four-year plan meetings with 9th graders and new students in the fall. Counselors believe implementing the group in the fall may yield stronger results by giving students more time to apply the knowledge they learned about strengths and learning styles. Counselors are considering moving four-year plan meetings to later in the fall to ensure earlier implementation for the group. While counselors discussed students’ academic struggles during the group, counselors plan to measure students’ perceptions of why they failed classes for the next group. Counselors plan to use this information to add activities involving time management, organization, study skills, or other areas contributing to students’ lack of success. The group will not continue for the 2016 – 2017 retained 9th graders; however, counselors plan to use the plan in 2017 – 2018 for at-risk students who failed multiple classes and state assessments since the results indicate the Small-Group Action Plan benefitted students’ success. Follow-up and support by counselors will continue for the 2016 – 2017 Carpe Diem students.