This year, Broad Run school counselors focused on building relationships with students and strengthening their resiliency to reduce stress and increase attendance and promotion rates. Counselors felt it was important for students to “identify long- and short-term academic, career, and social/emotional goals” (B-LS 7). We offered a College Application Boot Camp as a pilot program for rising seniors before school started in August. A pre-survey given to students who registered to attend indicated that seniors wanted to learn more about writing the essay, completing the application, completing required forms, and narrowing their college list. The counseling team partnered with community stakeholders and presented on these topics during a half day workshop. 85% of seniors felt more knowledgeable and less stressed about the application process after attending (see DATA Report #1). Timing likely had a negative impact on our low attendance, as only 14% of the senior class participated.
We met with seniors two more times during the first semester to ensure they understood how to request a transcript and letter of recommendation and could link to the Common Application. Data indicated that these lessons were a success. 87% of the senior class applied to college by the end of the first semester and 100% of the seniors who attended boot camp were accepted to college. Broad Run had a 99% graduation rate and 96% of seniors indicated on the end-of-year senior survey that they planned to pursue higher education. We plan to continue offering these lessons, but per student feedback, will allot more time for completion of application components during boot camp. We will also offer additional workshops during the first semester of the school year to increase participation.
We met with freshmen in October to start building relationships, assist with transition, and begin the college and career planning process (M 4). 96% of the freshmen class participated. Counselors reviewed components of a high school transcript. Student knowledge about the difference between a credit and verified credit increased by 61% (see DATA Report #2). Freshmen were introduced to Family Connection, an online college and career planning tool and students showed a 70% increase in their understanding of a career cluster. Freshmen were shown various tools in the online program which allowed counselors to, “apply media and technology skills (B-LS 5) during the lesson.
Post-survey results indicated an 86% increase in students knowing how to log on to Family Connection and 91% planned to revisit the site. However, student usage data showed that only 23% logged back in this year. The counseling team is unsure why students report a high level of interest when using Family Connection, but most do not take time to revisit the online tool. This data aligns with other grade levels, so we are exploring ways to incentivize program use for students and plan to introduce more parents to the program.
Counselors delivered the evidence-based suicide prevention lessons to 10th-12th graders. 98% of those who participated indicated that they knew the signs of depression (14% increase from pre-survey) and 87% understood the signs of suicide (see DATA Report #3). The team felt the need to change the wording of the survey questions to gain a better understanding of knowledge learned. Multiple-choice or fill in the blank questions would be more useful than yes or no answers. We were pleased to see that 98% reported having a trusted adult in the building because positive adult relationships are key protective factors against suicide.
We assessed use of healthy coping and stress management skills for all students through PEER activities during advisory, but discussed the option of including this information more formally in the survey questions for these lessons. The 14% increase in students’ ability to identify signs of depression indicates the lessons are helpful in providing depression awareness, as well as education about the signs of suicide. However, anecdotal data from students indicated that the lessons are ineffective and unhelpful. We will continue to provide the county-mandated lessons to all students, but will share data and student feedback with our administration.
End of the year data showed a 1.23% increase in the overall attendance rate from last year and the promotion rate for Hispanic students improved by 2.97%. We believe there is a correlation between our lessons and our students’ success this year because resilient students are more likely to attend school when they can cope with stress and navigate challenges as they arise.