The action plan reflects the school’s unique needs. It was developed after we analyzed our school’s data and goals, considered the developmental needs of our students, and prioritized the selected ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors (MS&Bs). Three of the five groups—Attendance Counts, Building Academic Champions, and Final Academic Push—reflect the school’s academic and attendance data and goals. Attendance Counts was initiated because the data showed a disproportionate number of unexcused absences for Hispanic students (average 27 days) compared to Black and White students (average 16 days); it supports the school’s goal to improve achievement in subgroups. The school’s goal that at least 80% of students earn a 2.5 GPA fueled decision-making for Building Academic Champions and Final Academic Push. Considering the students’ developmental needs and responses to the needs assessment, we realized that dealing with stress and trouble controlling anger were two of the top issues. Our students frequently react impulsively and consider their options for reacting after they’ve received a negative response. In response, we offered Anger Management and Interpersonal Skills for Girls. We weaved some of the critical MS&Bs we weren’t covering through classroom lessons into the small groups: M2, B-LS9, B-SMS1, B-SS2.
The content of the lesson plans for the group sessions was driven by the selected MS&Bs. After prioritizing MS&Bs, we used backwards planning to create our lesson plans. Keeping the standards we want students to master in mind, we developed activities that helped students achieve those standards. We wanted Building Academic Champions students to master M2, B-LS3, and B-SS8. To achieve M2, students did the goal setting and bridge building activities. To achieve B-LS3, students mapped out their daily schedules, cleaned and organized their binders, and determined ways to use their planners to improve their grades. To achieve B-SS8, students completed an academic action plan, rehearsed talking with teachers, gained feedback from peers, and implemented the plan. The perception data links to the selected MS&Bs as the assessment was created using backwards planning. We determined the knowledge, skills, and attitudes students needed to achieve academic success and developed the assessment: M2—“I believe I can earn good grades” and “I am satisfied with my current grades”; B-LS3—“I know how to improve my grades”; and B-SS8—“I know how to ask for help to improve my grades” and “I can ask for help to improve my grades.”
The results report informs future school counseling activities, as its provides baseline data for us to brainstorm ways to improve our program. The outcome data reveals the group was beneficial, as there was a 56.25% reduction in the number of students earning 3 or more Fs. The perception data indicates an increase in knowledge of how to improve grades, the ability to ask for help, and belief in one’s personal ability to earn good grades. There was a significant increase in students’ attitudes and levels of satisfaction with their current grades—this correlates with a decrease in the number of students earning multiple failing grades. There was a slight decrease in the level of knowledge of how to ask for help in order to improve grades. We think this may be a reflection of students’ displeasure with certain teachers, teachers not being receptive to helping students after already offering students multiple opportunities, and/or students’ communication styles. Reviewing assertive, aggressive, and passive communication styles may ease some of the tension students experience when talking with teachers whose classes they’re struggling in.
To improve the delivery, we’d like to offer an academic group every 9 weeks. We’d like to offer an academic group during the 1st 9 weeks of school to students who struggled academically the previous year. We also want to consider the group’s relationship to discipline. While this isn’t a group specifically for students struggling with behavior concerns, they may benefit from being part of a group which could prevent some of their misbehaviors. We believe all of these considerations would improve our pre- and post-test questions.
We are planning to continue the group because of the outcome data. We also want to continue this group because only 16 of 21 students originally identified attended our school by the end of the 2nd 9 weeks. The 5 students who didn’t participate were either expelled or moved into a different attendance zone. Earlier interventions may have prevented some of the behavior issues. Working with a highly transient population, we can work with stakeholders to stress the potential academic consequences of changing schools frequently.