Thomas Jefferson Middle School (2018)

arlington Arlington , VA

Small Group Responsive Services

As a counseling department, we believe small groups provide an important opportunity for us to apply our counseling skills and have a deeper influence on students’ holistic development. The 8-classes-per-day schedule in our middle-school requires a significant amount of planning to avoid disrupting class time. As a result, our small group action plan (attachment 10.1) reflects our collective focus on quality over quantity. Focused engagement of middle school students in a small group is something we are always trying to improve. Thus we value student’s suggestions, feedback, and general perception and outcome data, as we make decisions about the effectiveness of a lesson or group.

Often groups are organized as a direct response to referrals for interventions from teachers, administration, and parents. For example, our New Student Ambassador’s group was inspired by our principal’s request to make new students who arrive mid-year feel welcome, and our HILT reunification group was established after several students reported trauma from crossing the border into the United states. Other groups, such as the group sessions discussed in our results report, are directly related to achieving our program goals.

We chose to highlight the “Academic Excellence Group” because it addressed our 3rd program goal, was adapted from a research-based curriculum, and was the group that impacted the largest number of students this school-year (attachment 10.2). This group was an important part of our effort to provide early intervention to 6th grade students as well as affect the disproportionate number of Hispanic students on the D/E list in 6th grade. This curriculum was aligned to the ASCA mindsets and behaviors that we thought were most relevant to helping students to improve academic achievement. Furthermore, we appreciated that the pretest doubled as a selection tool for narrowing down which of the provided lesson plans were most relevant to students based on their self-identified strengths and weaknesses.

The Academic Excellence group, highlighted in our results report was structured so that 8 of the 12 optional lessons could be chosen based on need indicated from the pretest (attachment 10.4). It is important to note that we were frustrated that the pre-test and post-test had slightly different wording; however, we kept the questions the same because it was our first time using the tool.

On the pretest, motivation did not seem a particularly high-need of students with it earning a pre-test score of 48%, which was the second lowest need reported from all 10 sections. However, a key takeaway from the post-test data was that motivation was the only area in which students reported a higher need on the post-test (4% Increase). Motivation was the last lesson topic the students participated in before the posttest, so it clearly was not an effective lesson and if anything, it seemed to remind students of their lack of motivation. Based on this we agreed to try another research-based approach to motivate students in the future. Though it is always hard to draw strong conclusions from outcome data because of the many variables at play, the perception data indicated strong improvement in knowledge, attitudes and skills. As a result, we will use the curriculum again and are considering using it with other grades.

The results report (attachment 10.3) served as a significant reflection point for the counseling department, and we look forward to using the implications to refine our groups for this upcoming year. We concluded that we need to refine our perception data questions to clarify perception data and the effect our interventions have on outcomes. We should review questions for upcoming lessons as a group to make sure the questions align directly with objectives and are relevant to knowledge, attitude, and skills. This way we are assured that our questions align and connect as closely as possible to the outcome data we are trying to change.

Group Name: Academic Advisement Groups (Academic Excellence Groups)

Goal: Goal 3: By June 2018, the 30 sixth graders identified on the Academic Watch List in the 1st Quarter (defined as students with 2 or more Ds or Es in Math, Science, Social Studies, or English), will be reduced by at least 25% to 22 students or less.

Target Group: 6th grade Students who had 2 or more D's and E's on BOTH interim 1 and quarter 1 grades

Data Used to Identify Students: 6th grade Students who had 2 or more D's and E's on BOTH interim 1 and quarter 1 grades

School Counselor(s): Lead- Susan Russo Co-lead- Amelia Black Co-lead- Ana Rodriguez

ASCA Domain, Mindsets & Behaviors Standard(s): M-6 B-SMS 5 B-SMS-6 B-LS-3 B-LS-7

Outline of Group Sessions Delivered: 1- Individual meetings 2- Orientation 3- Turning in Assignments 4- Goal Review (meetings with individuals) 5- Stress 6- Goal Setting 7- Task Completion and Procrastination 8- Organization 9- Test Taking Skills and Test Anxiety 10- Learning styles and study skills for each style 11- Motivation 12- Celebration

Process Data (Number of students affected): 24 6th grade students participated in this group who were on the academic watch list (Two or More D’s and/or E’s) for 1st quarter interim grades and for quarter 1.

Perception Data (Surveys or assessments used): 24 students took the pre and post assessment questions on the following topics. Pre-test and Post-Test scoring: The sum of student scores for pre-tests and post-tests were added up and divided by 48 to calculate an overall percentage for each answer (because the maximum score each student could give for an answer was 2 and there were 24 students, we multiplied 2 X 24 to calculate the maximum possible score for each topic to divide students actual responses out of 48) Calculation of change in answers from Pre-test and post-test for particular skills: 72.7% of skills overall became easier 13.6% of skills became harder 13.6% of skills stayed the same Motivation: Pre-Test: 23 (48%) Post-Test: 25 (52%) 4% Increase Procrastination: Pre-Test: 23 (48%) Post-Test: 23 (48%) 0% change Goal Setting: Pre-Test: 22 (46%) Post-Test: 17 (35%) 11% Decrease Learning Styles: Pre-Test: 27 (56%) Post-Test: 14 (29%) 27% Decrease Test Anxiety: Pre-Test: 27 (56%) Post-Test: 19 (40%) 16% Decrease Testing Skills: Pre-Test: 10 (63%) Post-Test: 23 (48%) 23% Decrease Handling stress and pressure: Pre-Test: 24 (50%) Post-Test: 16 (33%) 17 % Decrease Turning in Assignments: Pre-Test: 34 (71%) Post-Test: 23 (48%) 23% Decrease General Study Skills: Pre-Test: 26 (54%) Post-Test: 16 (33%) 21% Decrease Organization: Pre-Test: 24 (50%) Post-Test: 17 (35%) 15% Decrease

Outcome Data (Achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data): 24 students in the group (100%) were on the academic watch list for MP1.) 15/24 students were on the academic watch list as of 2nd quarter (The groups started mid-way through this quarter) - 9 students (37.5%) off the list 17/24 students were on the academic watch list 3rd quarter (the group finished mid-way through this quarter) - 7 students (29.1%) off the list 13/24 students from the group were on the academic watch list by the last/4th quarter 11 students (45.8%) off the list 15/24 Of the students on the watch list and in the group, 15 were still on the watch list as of final grades 9 students (37.5%) off the list For Comparison: Final Data for the 6 students NOT in the group (because they were only on the academic watch list for quarter 1) showed that 4 of 6 students NOT in the group were still on the academic watch list at final grades 2 students (33.3%) off the list

Implications: - This was the first time this curriculum was used, but because it was research-based program, the pretest and post-test were not modified. However, the wording from the pre and post assessments were confusing, difficult to score, and left data up for interpretation. Next year we are going to use a Likert scale with the same statements for pre and post tests. - There was a 4% increase of students feeling motivation was a concern at the end of the group from the beginning of the group. This was the only question students overall scored higher on from pre-test to post-test. The “motivation” lesson plan was given as the last lesson before the post-assessment. Perhaps this was an indication that this lesson was not sufficient to increase motivation. - In doing this set of lessons in the future, motivation could be a lesson done towards the beginning, and we could substitute the motivation lesson with another researched-based lesson or a strategy for motivating students throughout the group. - Overall there was zero percentage change between pre-test and post-test from the procrastination lesson. Perhaps this lesson could be replaced with another research-based lesson when running this group again. - The largest perception data changes from pre-test to post-test were around learning styles (27% decrease), turning in assignments (23% decrease general study skills (23% decrease). This seems to indicate that these were the most effective group lessons, and they all fall under a general category of “student-ship skills,” so we will perhaps pull from these lessons if we develop core curriculum lessons around these topics. - From quarter 1 to final grades, 37.5% of students in the group came off the academic watch-list. For comparison, 6 of the total 30 students who were identified by our program goal were not identified for the small group because they were not on the academic watch list for both interim 1 and quarter 1. However, these students seemed to have similar outcomes as those enrolled in the small group because 2 of 6 of them came off the academic watch list by final grades (33%). However, these students were specifically chosen for individual interventions only because they seemed more likely to be successful, having only been on the D/E list for quarter 1; so perhaps this group was already pre-disposed to improve grades at a higher rate than students in the group. - There were 8 students in 3 small groups that each met a different day of the week. This was a great way to increase the number of students receiving the intervention, however, at times group dynamics could make it a bit chaotic and it was hard to give individual attention to students where needed. In the future, we might add some specific language to the group contract that if they do not follow the group rules and do not engage productively in the group conversation, students will be removed from the group.