Lee-Davis School Counselors have been tracking retention data since 2014-2015. In the summer of 2017, when we reviewed the previous 3 years of data at our annual School Counseling Retreat, it was apparent that 9th graders had significantly more retentions than other grade levels (students are identified as being retained in freshman year as those who have not passed 5 or more credits). In 2014-2015, 9th graders accounted for 66% of all retentions, in 2015-2016, they accounted for 41% and in 2016-2017, they accounted for 42%. According to a report published by Allensworth & Easton (2005), “on-track students (earning at least five full-year course credits and no more than one semester F in a core course in their first year of high school) are more than three and one-half times more likely to graduate from high school in four years than off-track students”. Based off of Lee-Davis retention data and supporting research, the counseling team decided to dedicate one of our Program Goals for 2017-2018 to reducing the retention rate of 9th graders by 20%.
Upon further analysis of the retention data of 2016-2017, we observed that 45% of 9th graders retained were minority (African American & Hispanic) students and 82% were Students With Disabilities (SWD). Since our student population is only 13.4% African American & Hispanic and 15.5% SWD, a significant gap was discovered between the academic success of these student populations in comparison to the non-African American, non-Hispanic, and students without disabilities groups. With that knowledge, our counseling team felt strongly that we needed to put in place interventions to attempt to close the identified gaps.
At the end of Quarter 1, 9th graders failing 3 or more classes were identified as at-risk for retention. These at-risk students, after parent and teacher notification, were given 4 study skills/organization core curriculum lessons. Student received lessons either through Academic Resource classes, or through small group lessons, for those students who were not enrolled in the Academic Resource class. It is important to note that students who were not identified as at-risk but enrolled in the Academic Resource classes received lessons. Process and perception data reflects responses from all students who received lessons (including those in the Academic Resource class that were not targeted), while the outcome data only reflects students who were identified as at-risk for retention.
We sought resources to develop a plan to assist students with the development of strong organizational and study skills, noted in the attached lesson plans. Lesson plans were created in direct relation to B-LS3 & B-SMS8 in the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors, in an effort to increase the students’ effective use of time management, study skills, and organizational habits, as well as their ability to balance school and home responsibilities with community activities. With the exception of one question, the perception data demonstrates improvement in knowledge and skills related to B-LS3 and B-SMS8, as measured by the Pre/Post test.
Our counseling team was pleased with the outcome data, specifically the 36% overall reduction in 9th grade retentions and that reductions occurred in the percentages of SWD and minority students being retained. We feel that we gained valuable insight to assist with future work with 9th grade students at-risk. The classroom proved to be a better delivery setting for interventions than the small group setting. We attribute this to the timing of the small groups, which took place during FLEX time. Attendance was inconsistent, possibly due to other academic commitments during FLEX. Next year we plan to develop another method to reach the students not enrolled in an Academic Resource Class. We also plan to increase efforts to partner with parents by engaging them more actively in this process. While phone or email contacts were made with parents this year, they were minimally involved overall. Teachers’ involvement and input varied by student, but there is room for increased participation for them, as well, Therefore, our team will be stepping up efforts to involve parents and teachers to a greater degree as we continue our mission to further reduce 9th grade retentions.
Allensworth, E. & Easton, J. Q. (2005). The On-Track Indicator as a Predictor of High School Graduation. The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Retrieved from https://consortium.uchicago.edu/publications/track-indicator-predictor-high-school-graduation