In May 2017, 5 of our 10th Grade Hispanic females were identified as “at-risk” entering their community college English course because they did not pass their entrance exam (the NCDAP test). While they did not pass this exam, they were still able to enroll into the course for Spring of 2018; this just meant that they were missing skills needed in order to be successful in their English course. There are 59 students in their cohort, and these 5 students consistently scored lower than their peers on end-of-course exams. When considering this population to focus on as a part of my closing-the-gap goal, teacher input, administration input, NCDAP data, end-of-course data, and historical grades were all considered.
All of these students took their college English course during Spring 2018 (of their 10th grade school year). Therefore, interventions took place at the beginning of this semester. Interventions chosen to help these students included: individual student counselor conference meetings at the beginning of their Spring semester that involved goal setting, consultation with the ESL District Counselor prior to interventions, brainstorm meetings with their high school teachers, weekly grade checks by the counselor (myself), bi-monthly grade check ins and consultation with the college liaison, college visits, writing support 1x per month in their Seminar (Life Skills) support class, remediation time offered in our schools Academic Lab, and semester-long College Success Small Group. Additionally, these students received remediation during our school’s Academic Lab, which is offered 3x per week for a total of 1.5 hours. To assist these students, I individually conferenced with all of these students at the beginning of the semester to set goals, conducted weekly grade checks, and met with these students 1x per week in College Success Small Group. Topics in College Success Small Group included: goal setting, time management, test-taking skills, mapping out assignments, stress management techniques, advocacy, effective listening, grade checks, and self-awareness. An evidenced-based strategy suggested by literature for speakers of other languages learning English is stress management strategies, such as mindfulness and meditation according to Fekieh Alrabai in “The Influence of Teachers’ Anxiety Reducing Strategies on Learners’ Foreign Language Anxiety.” I incorporated some of these strategies in small group counseling. These interventions encompass a school-wide approach targeting social/emotional, academic, writing, and collaborative support for our students.
The data results demonstrated an overall increased growth in perception data. Our outcome data showed that 60% of these students earned a C or better in their college English course. 40% of these students earned a D. After reflecting on these results, I feel as though it may have benefited our students even more if these interventions ran year-long. They began in the spring when they started their college course, but it may have benefited them to start the intervention process during the fall. The overall mindset that drove content and curriculum for the closing-the-gap action plan was M5 (belief in using abilities to their fullest to achieve high-quality results and outcomes). I used this as the foundation of the learning strategies (B-LS 3; B-LS 4; B-LS 8), self-management skills (B-SMS6), and social skills (B-SS8) implemented for each group session. For example, as perception data shows, this group of students has a difficult time asking adults for help and advocating for themselves. Therefore, I utilized M5 and B-SS8 (demonstrate advocacy skills) to help promote achieve to do better in their college English course. Perception data showed an increase of students’ comfortability in asking for help.
The data results will help our school better collect data more accurately through immediately analyzing testing results from the community college for all grade levels each year instead of waiting until their sophomore year to see their placement levels. Additionally, the data results showed that our Academic Lab (remediation time for writing skills) was helpful and our school will increase our Academic Lab up to 4x per week to increase foundation gaps for students. Lastly, perception data showed an increase of M5 (belief in self) and that it was an effective mindset to focus on for students who are performing low on placement tests. Since stress management was the main area where students did not increase in overall confidence, next year, I will incorporate a more in-depth focus on M1 (belief in whole self, including a healthy balance of mental, social/emotional, and physical well-being) into each group session even if it’s for just a few minutes at the beginning of each group.