The Student Services Core Curriculum covered a range of topics including: Anti-Bullying, Grade Level Orientations, and Learning Strategies. The Learning Strategies Core Curriculum taught academic habits to two classes (one 7th grade and one 8th grade) that could benefit from extra support. Perception data was collected at the beginning of the lessons, a midyear point, and the end of the year. The survey was created as a self-assessment which focused on attitudes towards learning, and the utilization of various learning strategies.
For the 7th grade class, 38% of students reported a higher score on their self-assessment of their learning strategies. In the 8th grade class 36% of students reported a higher score on their self-assessment of their learning strategies. This tool was a self-assessment, and therefore could be biased depending on the student’s perception. Some students indicated in conversation that they did not feel that they had improved, and scored themselves as such. However, teachers and counselors noticed improvement in their day to day academic habits. These improvements are difficult to quantify and in the future it would be advantageous to collect additional perception data from teachers, parents, and counselors.
In addition to the overall perception data, the data collected for each lesson was used as a check in to determine the effectiveness of the specific activities each day. Often, the mini assessments at the end of the class proved that students were able to understand the material. For example, the first lesson on Persistence asked for students to define the term in their own words. Every student in both samples was able to give a definition for the word and an example. The effectiveness of this evaluation tool leads us to believe that the lesson on Persistence should continue to be utilized in the future.
The next lesson on self-efficacy also had some positive outcomes from the post assessment given at the end of the lesson. The students were able to change their negative thoughts to more positive and productive ones. This lesson seemed to connect easily with the students because they were speaking about themselves and it was very personal. The third lesson, which also focused on self-efficacy, was similar. The quotes had students really thinking about their personal efforts and how they can become more responsible in their academics. Counselors asked each student to explain the quote that they chose, and the students were easily able to explain their reasoning. Both of these lessons could be used again with a different group of students in the future, and would still have a lasting impact.
The outcome data for both samples was the students’ SOL scores for Reading. This was chosen as the outcome data because the class itself was focused on Reading intervention, and the academic habits were often incorporated into reading instruction. In the first class, 79% of students improved their SOL score. In the second group, 67% improved their SOL score. 43% of students in the first class and 21% of students in the second class met the goal of increasing their SOL score by 10% from the 2015-2016 school year. Although many did not meet the ambitious goal of improving their Reading scores by 10%, the counselors were pleased with the progress.
Working individually with students that needed more one on one support after each lesson was an additional support the counselors provided for these classes. Overall, the perception data was a strong way to gauge the level of understanding about learning strategies with the students. In the future, the counselors should consider using a tool that is more content based rather than a self-assessment to determine if students are truly grasping the academic habits. The Reading SOL was a good source of outcome data for this pilot program because the students were low-performing in that content area. However, the Learning Strategies curriculum went well beyond the confined scope of the Reading SOL, which is a onetime comprehensive measure. The students learned characteristics and behaviors that transgressed all of their classes, and helped them to grow personally. As we continue to expand this effort school-wide we should consider to focus on student grades in all core classes. We believe that grades may be a better source of outcome data because they will allow us to see improvement as students utilize these skills on a daily basis in class. In our future classes we will work to have students improve their grades in core classes by one letter grade.