(REVISED)The comprehensive school counseling program at CVHS includes academic small groups for students who are failing three or more classes, stress reduction groups for 11th grade students and a 12th grade Deferred Action Child Arrival (DACA) support small group. The academic small groups target the most at risk 9th and 10th grade students in order to provide early interventions and supports. Usually, 9th and 10th grade students failing classes at the 6 week and at semester grading periods are selected to participate. Students failing three or more classes are targeted because those students are most at risk of not earning a high school diploma and less prepared to pursue college and career aspirations. This year (2017-18) we wanted to intervene even sooner to prevent credit loss. The group began 5 weeks earlier than in prior years, and the lessons were based on growth mindset principles.
(REVISED)We chose to target the 11th grade students with stress reduction lessons because 11th grade students identified stress as one of their top concerns based on a needs assessment survey given in 2017, and because the CVHS Leadership Team identified the 11th grade students as experiencing the most stress as it related to academics. All 11th grade students were invited to attend, and 80 students elected to participate in the group.
(REVISED)We chose to provide a DACA support group to 12th grade students, due to the threats to the DACA program and students feelings of uncertainty about being able to stay in this country and attend college. Nine 12th grade students were identified by their AVID instructor as needing support and participated in the small group.
(REVISED)In October of 2016, the two school counselors and one school counselor intern, attended a workshop at the CASC state conference, given by Eileen Ponce, a school counselor from Murrieta, California, called “Creating Opportunities for Success Using the Mindset Paradigm”. Her presentation and academic intervention lessons were based on the research by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. in her book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”. After the conference, we began exploring the possibility of utilizing the growth mindset concepts and lessons presented by Eileen Ponce for the next school year. We read Carol Dweck’s book and discussed and revised the lessons used by Eileen Ponce to fit our time frame and student needs. We liked that the lessons had already been used with success and the concepts were supported by research and practice. After much discussion, we believed collectively, that teaching growth mindset principles to the students and helping them put these principles into practice, would allow them to maximize their personal potential and academic success, thus encouraging self- confidence, resiliency, motivation and a positive attitude toward learning.
(REVISED)The Growth Mindset lessons were designed to support Mindset 2 (Self confidence in ability to succeed) because the student participants needed to build their self- esteem to create a more positive mindset toward learning. We carefully selected the behavior standards we wanted students to be able to demonstrate as a result of the lessons. We chose B-SMS 1 (Demonstrate ability to assume responsibility) and B-LS 4 (Apply self-motivation and self-direction to learning), which identified the essence of the Growth Mindset lessons. The lessons focused on teaching students skills to become independent, self-directed and responsible for their learning, thus experiencing academic success. Together the Mindset and Behaviors served as the guide to the lessons. During each lesson, students were given a worksheet to follow and complete. The team noticed some students had difficulty taking notes and when asked, had little knowledge about school resources for study skills. Next year we will assess the participants’ basic study and organizational skills, and will add lessons to address these if needed. Pre-post survey data indicated significant changes in students’ belief in control of their behavior (33.3% decrease in attributing behavior to something other than themselves, and a 14.2% increase in belief that behavior is guided by personal decisions and effort). Outcome data revealed that the students who participated in the small group increased their collective grade point average by 56%, from a 1.31 GPA before the small group, to a 2.05 GPA at the end of the first semester. In exit interviews, students reported that they learned new ways to deal with negative thoughts related to their past academic achievement and that they enjoyed the lessons. Next year we will offer more information to parents, such as tutoring services and other resources to better partner with them to support their children.