All of the core curriculum lessons were developed with the ALHS counseling mission, vision and goals, state standards, administration goals and chosen ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors in mind. We decided to take a closer look at three lessons that range in focus, but when combined, highlight our department’s support of students’ academic, postsecondary and social/emotional needs: “10th Grade I Have My PSAT Scores, Now What?,” “9th Grade Success for Academic Planning” and “Signs of Suicide.”
The “10th Grade I Have My PSAT Scores, Now What?” lesson was developed to support Lincoln’s Unified Improvement Plan, specifically the number of students attaining benchmark scores in English and Math. This focus intentionally relates to both our school and department mission statement in the college and career ready aspect. Of 241 10th grade students, a great majority (91.7%) of students received the lesson highlighting their specific scores, needs and goals on the SAT. Although it’s important to note that PSAT and SAT do not necessarily have a causal relationship, our department found it promising that the same group of Class of 2019 students increased the percentage of those receiving a score about 900 from 20.1% on the PSAT to 27.1% on the SAT. ALHS traditionally has come up very short compared to other schools around the district, state and nation on standardized tests- creating a huge barrier for our students in accessing college admission and many scholarships. Even a small gain in the amount of students with benchmark scores indicates that understanding personalized score reports, creating test related goals and having the opportunity to talk to teachers about a customized improvement plan could boost scores at ALHS over time. Having the ability to compare the same test twice in one year- PSAT 10 before and after the Now What? lesson, for example, would help us understand more accurately how students are progressing and whether or not the lesson is effective. Overall, the Now What? Lesson seems to do its job of helping students identify long and short term academic, career and social/emotional goals (BS-LS-7) and instill a belief in the whole self (M5) that comes from addressing large goals in smaller, measurable pieces with advisor support.
The 9th Grade Success for Academic Planning” lesson was developed to support our freshmen who have traditionally struggled to pass classes required for graduation. This focus relates to our counseling department goal of increasing the on-track to graduate rate. Although, our goal specifically calls out the 10th grade class, our hope was to create positive change in OTG rate before students hit 10th grade. Of our 9th grade students in 2017-2018, 94.1% participated in the Student Success Lesson led by counselors. The lesson did not demonstrate a positive impact on OTG rate, as the OTG rate for semester 1 was 81.8% and semester 2 it decreased to 68.9%. From the data, it appears that although students were able to move through the on-track meeting worksheet, identify GPA, etc., other barriers are preventing them from passing classes. Moving forward, a needs assessment to determine what barriers exist in addition to not possessing knowledge of the requirements contribute to 9th grade F’s should be our focus before continuing on with this lesson. Likely, adjustments such as timing of implementation (perhaps in the fall) will be made in order for students to successfully identify academic, career and social/emotional goals (BS-LS-7).
The Signs of Suicide program was developed with a specific focus on promoting the safety skills (B-SMS-9) related to seeking out a trusted adult in times of potential harm to self or others (BS-SS-3). Almost all 9th graders (96.67%) received the SOS programming. The nine students who were absent over that time frame did not participate. Data from the pre and post SOS tests revealed extensive growth in knowledge of safety skills with the percentage of students scoring above 80% on the pretest at less than 2% to 77% scoring above 80% on the post-test. One implication of the Signs of Suicide program’s effectiveness is the number of annual Suicide Risk Reviews competed by mental health team staff. Growth in this area indicates that perhaps more students are being brought to our attention as potentially at-risk. Continuing with SOS seems to be a natural fit for our school. One potential change in data collection could be recording the number of referrals to the mental health team, versus the number of completed risk reviews- because this would indicate we are reaching those in danger prior to escalation.