Woodson High School creates a School Innovation and Improvement Plan (SIIP) each year from analyzing the previous school year’s data. For the 2016-2017 school year, the W.T. Woodson High School SIIP and closing the gap goal was to decrease the number of student failures in courses. Comparing the SIIP and closing the gap goal with the ASCA mindset and behavior planning tool, counselors chose to develop a goal for a specific, focused group. Based on data, counselors targeted the transition needs of freshman, to develop academic study skills needed to be successful in the ninth grade, throughout high school and beyond.
In order to contribute to our school’s success in meeting our goal, our department’s strategy (as noted in the SIIP) was to offer a Freshman Academic Group for our ninth grade students. Historical data has shown that our ninth grade students are one of the grade levels with the most Ds and Fs at the end of each quarter and at the end of the school year. During the 2015-2016 school year, 5% of our ninth grade students received an F for a final grade. With a total number of sixty-four Fs, thirty-two students had at least one F and multiple students had more than one F. Based on this data, the school counseling team determined a group which addresses common high school transition setbacks and resources available at our school may help our students to raise their grades.
Counselors reviewed first quarter interim grades in the fall of 2016 to identify freshman students. Students who earned at least one D or F in a core subject area were selected to participate in the Freshman Academic Group. From the list identified students who were invited to participate, only eight students received parental permission to join the group. The eight students who were selected for the Freshman Academic Group remained our selected students for counseling department’s closing the gap goal. Students were monitored throughout the year by counselors, collecting data with targeted intervention activities.
To focus on the areas of needs for the Freshman Academic Group, students were given a pre-survey during the first group lesson. The survey asked students to report on their strengths and weaknesses in study and organizational skills. From the results of the survey, counselors focused on instructing students on their areas of weakness, over an eight month period.
Counselors implemented additional targeted interventions for the eight closing the gap students. Counselors met individually with each student throughout the year and noted the academic planning discussed in the group. Referrals were made for all students to attend tutoring provided by our Math and English centers located within the building. Lastly, two of our core curriculum activities were related to the closing the gap goal, Signs of Suicide (SOS) Wellness Screening and Freshman Orientation Lesson Four. These lessons addressed areas of academic concern and were delivered to all ninth grade students, which the eight students targeted for closing the gap benefitted from participating in.
Interventions were selected based on best practices and research informed. Using historical data, ninth grade students were identified as the one grade level with the most Ds and Fs. Reviewing the pre-survey administered at the start of the Freshman Academic Group, counselors were able to identify areas of strength and weakness for students. Being research informed allowed counselors to reflect and analyze previous and current data, and select targeted interventions for the identified closing the gap students. Best practices drove the types of interventions implemented and data collected. Wanting to address each domain (career, personal/social, and academic) the types of interventions and activities, perception and outcome data were selected.
The data results from the closing the gap interventions were shown to be effective and, as a result, counselors plan to continue the targeted interventions next year. All eight students were promoted to 10th grade, with 87% of students increasing their grades by at least one letter grade. Attendance for these students was inconsistent; many students were absent from group sessions and counselors were required to follow up with students individually. Next school year, the counseling team will look into alternative times when there is not a scheduling conflict with the Freshman Academic Group. School counselors shared the outcome of the group with stakeholders including our Advisory Council, Woodson Administration team, other high school counseling leaders, and the FCPS School Counseling Office. School data will continue to be reviewed in order to identify the specific student population appropriate for closing the gap.