A variety of small groups met during the 2017-18 school year that were designed to meet the program goals. These small groups allowed for a more concentrated intervention focus for selected students. The following group topics were selected for small group counseling: academic self-regulation and success; anger management, and relational aggression/bullying.
The academic self-regulation and success group was implemented to address a disparity in the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test data. The data showed that students who spent more than 30 minutes on the MAP reading or MAP math test were more likely to achieve “met” status than “not-met”. Second grade students who scored “not-met” on MAP reading and/or MAP math and took less than 30 minutes on the 2017-18 fall MAP test were selected to participate in the group. The school counselor decided to focus only on second grade due to their developmental and maturity level when compared to other grades. The group also helped develop important skills needed for the following year in third grade when the results of the state standardized assessment determines if a student will be retained. This group directly addresses the school counseling program goal number three.
The results from this group were very encouraging. On the spring MAP reading assessment 11 students met their goal score. This goal score was tabulated by the creators of MAP and was based on an algorithm that considers their fall and winter scores. Fourteen students met their time goal (at least 30 minutes on the assessment). On the spring MAP math assessment 13 students met their goal score and 14 met their time goal. This group will again be offered in the next school year based on the promising results.
The anger management and relational aggression/bullying group were selected based on the previous school year’s discipline data. Sixty-eight percent of the discipline referrals from the previous year were from repeat offenders. Students were referred for these small groups if they had at least 1 discipline referral in the previous school year. I hoped that targeting these repeat offenders would help bring the number of discipline referrals down which would support program goal number two. The data also showed that the nature of the referral was indicative of issues with anger management, self-regulation, and bullying. The counselor split the groups by gender due to success in the past with this split.
These groups had mixed results. The relational aggression group showed an increase in knowledge based on perception data (pre/post-test) and a decrease in discipline referrals. Two of the students did increase their discipline referrals from the previous year by one, however, one was placed under a 504 plan and a BIP developed. The data also showed that the majority of referrals were given after the group was completed. The group participants responsible for these referrals do a daily check-in/check-out, however, data would suggest that more intensive supports are needed once the group is complete. These students would have benefited from a weekly or bi-weekly session practicing skills learned in group. This follow-up support needs to be planned for in the upcoming school year with groups targeting behavior.
The anger management group showed an increase in knowledge based on perception data (pre/post-test) but the outcome data was not as promising. Referrals for the group increased from 7 in 2016-17 to 12 in 2017-18. However, on closer inspection the data shows that one student had the same amount of referrals as the rest of the group combined. This student had issues that required more extensive interventions. This group helped him gain the knowledge and skills needed to be able to effectively cope in the classroom once the outlying issues were addressed.
For both the relational aggression and anger management group, some changes need to be considered for the future. The groups may be more beneficial if number of session was decreased with individual student follow-up on a bi-weekly basis. If the student is showing difficulty in the area of concern these students could also be added to the daily check-in and check-out. Structuring the group in this way would allow for more students to be seen. For example, the first group of the year could be comprised of students who had a referral in the previous school year and the next group comprised of current year referrals. Once this group ended the students could get the above mentioned support. Hopefully this would alleviate some of the post-group referrals.