Our rationale for which groups to run was decided by a School-wide Needs Assessment given to students and staff. This year our top three needs for personal-social counseling were anger, anxiety and grief. These needs coincided with what we were seeing in our crisis response services. Additionally, they line up with 3 of the top 4 most important developmental needs for adolescents to master, as identified by the American Psychological Association:
Recognizing and managing emotions.
Resolving conflict constructively.
Develop a cooperative spirit.
Participants for our personal-social groups were identified by our student needs assessment data, as well as teacher or student self-referral. Our counselor, Tyrez Howard, collaborated with our School Social Worker and School Psychologist to run our personal-social groups. As Tyrez spoke to our students, he was able to gather enough student interest for the Anger Group and Anxiety (“Learning to Breathe”) groups, but was unable to find students willing to commit to the Grief Group. Additionally, we decided to have an academic intervention small group with a cohort of our off-track 10th grade students, to help increase our on-track to graduation rate of our most off-track grade in the building. Intervening intensively with this group should have a positive impact on our graduation rate, on-track rate, and possibly could decrease the dropout rate for this at-risk group. This directly lines up with our Goal #1 for this year. Additionally, research strongly suggests early intervention, as “only 19% of those who graduated reported that they had fallen . .. behind at any point”, according to Philanthropy News Digest.
We advertised our 10th Grade Academic Intervention group through Advisement class announcements. We ended up with 10 students who expressed interest, and made sure each participant was only 1-2 classes off-track, to reach a group of students who could more easily become on-track again. These students received a 4 session “Student Success” curriculum, targeting the importance of using time management, organizational and study skills (B-LS 3). Additionally, we believed if students understood what type of learning style they had (auditory, visual, tactile), they would be stronger learners (B-SMS 6). The curriculum topics were determined by the areas of greatest deficit, as determined by counselor, administration, and teacher observation. The rationale was that if students can master specific skills, they can use these skills in the classroom to improve their academic performance. Amber Lister, Kelly Bravo and Heather Ray worked collaboratively to plan this intervention, since this intervention would impact their particular student caseload. Each counselor took the lead on one lesson, Heather Ray led two. It was decided, after discussion with Administration and advisement teachers, that using the 40 minute Advisement block on 4 days would be the most appropriate time to implement this small group.
For data, we looked at our pre- and post- data, number of classes failed second semester, and failures in english and math grades from the 4th 6-week grades to final grades at the end of semester 2. Our outcome data showed a decrease from 70% of students failing english or math to 20% at the end of the semester (71% decrease). Three of the students are now back on track, with even more expected at the end of summer school. We also saw a 55% decrease in the number of overall F’s. We saw a 200% increase in students using their planners, 50% increase in students knowing their learning style, and 28% increase in students believing they have the skills to be successful in school.
As we look to next year, we would like to still intervene with 10th grade students. As we saw a 71% decrease in number of students failing English and Math due to our intervention, we plan to have lessons implemented early in the year, in September, to avoid failures in first semester. Looking at our perception data, we were encouraged to see that 90% of students now know their learning style. However, this does not mean anything if they do not know how to leverage their strengths. Counselors will provide a list of student learning styles to teachers, and will target Tactile learners for more hands-on programs offered at our Career Education Center. Finally, we saw a 200% increase in students creating a daily schedule or plan after our intervention. This seemed key to their academic success. Due to this, we have ordered ALHS Planners for all students next school year, and will have a lesson in Advisement concerning planners and their use.