W.T. Woodson High School (2018)

Fairfax, VA

Closing the Gap


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.

Goal: 80 percent of identified 9th grade students who received a D or F for 1st quarter interims in the 2016-2017 school year will improve at least one letter grade by the final marking period of the 2016-2017 school year.

Target Group: 9th grade students

Data Used to Identify Students: 1st quarter interim grade reports and final grade reports from 2016-2017 school year

School Counselor(s): Grady Ford, Ashley Kovachik, Bethany Lash, Michael Matthews, Alaina Proffitt, Elizabeth Walter, Adrienne Wood, Jody Ward

ASCA Domain, Mindsets & Behaviors Standard(s): M2, M3, M4, M5, B-SMS5, B-LS8,B-LS3, B-LS9,B-SMS6,B-SMS8 B-SS2, B-LS7, B-SMS3

Type of Activities to be Delivered in What Manner?: Freshman Academic Small Group, Individual Student Planning with targeted students, Referrals for Tutoring for targeted students, Freshman Orientation Lesson 2-Signs of Suicide (SOS) Wellness Screening and Freshman Orientation Lesson 4 through Core Curriculum

Process Data (Number of students affected): 8 closing the gap students participated in small groups

Perception Data (Surveys or assessments used): Freshman Academic Group: Identified five to six organizational skills Pre: 20% Post: 40% 20% increase Identified learning style as kinesthetic, auditory, or visual Pre: 50% Post: 100% 50% increase Individual Student Planning: 100% of students met individually with their counselor and created a post-secondary plan. Referrals through Tutoring: My grades would be better if I were more organized. Pre: 25% Post: 75% 50% increase I feel stressed about the amount of school work I have to do. Pre: 100% Post: 75% 25% decrease

Outcome Data (Achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data): Freshman Academic Group: 87% of group participants raised at least one first quarter interim grade of D or F at least one letter grade by the final marking period. Individual Student Planning: 75% of the students passed all of their classes, 13% of students failed one class, and 12% of students failed 2 classes. Referrals for tutoring: 100% of students were promoted from 9th grade to 10th grade. 87% of students who received Math tutoring either improved their grade or maintained their grade over the course of the year. 50% of students who received English tutoring either improved their grade or maintained their grade over the course of the year.

Implications: Freshman Academic Group: The data suggests our closing the gap intervention was successful, we surpassed our original goal of improving grades over the course of the year. The activities of the academic group can shift from year to year based on the needs of our students. Needs are identified by the data gathered from the pre-survey. In this particular group, 20% of the students were only able to identify five to six organizational skills. By focusing on skill building, we were able to increase the number of identified skills to 40%. As a result of skills learned, students were able to increase their grades from first quarter interim to the fourth quarter. Attendance for this group was inconsistent. Almost all students were absent from one or more meetings due to illness, make-up work, or mandatory remediation. Next year, W.T. Woodson will have a new bell schedule with reconfigured learning seminar blocks, which may allow for better attendance. Individual Student Planning: The data showed students created a goal with their counselor individually and as a results, were all promoted to the next grade level. During the individual meetings with students, counselors discussed current grades in classes, possible classes that would need to be repeated over the summer, plans for after high school, career fields of interests, and courses that matched desired career fields. When reviewing the eight closing the gap students, counselors recognized a few students elected to take an advanced course and later switched out of the course. In the future, it may be beneficial to collect data on what courses were recommended by the teacher and the class selected by the student. Referrals for tutoring: When reviewing the perception data, there was clearly a change in attitude and increase in knowledge. Before our interventions, students did not see the influence of organization on grades. Students also remarked they had a high stress level as a result of the school work they had to complete. After working individually with a tutor, students reported they felt less stress and recognized how organization played a role in their grades. A number of factors play a role in achievement. By increasing awareness of these factors and showing students they have the ability to improve, students are able to increase their grades. The eight closing the gap students who participated in the tutoring sessions were tutored by upperclassmen who had strong Math and English skills. The outcome data showed a steady increase in Math and English grades over the course of the school year. For future planning, we will consider referring students to existing tutoring programs already in place. The Math Center and Writing Center are both available to all students during all lunches. Due to time limitations, we were unable to meet with the eight closing the gap students during lunches. Therefore, the tutors met with students individually earlier in the day. By helping students become familiar with the existing tutoring programs, they may become more comfortable reaching out for extra help when they need to.