The lessons that we highlight are a component of the work we did toward our Freshman-on-Track and college persistence goals. The purpose of the G.P.A. lesson was to help students understand the importance of starting academically strong with not only passing all classes, but aiming for high standards. The use of slides and Naviance access allows us to share information on a few colleges to aid students in their awareness of differences among schools with regard to selectivity levels and graduation rates. Statistically, colleges that are more selective have higher graduation rates, and we want students to understand the implications as they pertain to college access. Having students practice calculating their G.P.A. was an effective strategy that allowed students to realize the G.P.A. impact of a low grade. Students are able to meet the behavior standard of setting short-/long-term academic goals, while exploring postsecondary plans.The Naviance lesson is a useful activity to develop a S.M.A.R.T. goal. While we do a follow-up G.P.A. and academic goal lesson after the first semester, moving forward, we felt the need to have a more structured approach in reinforcing lesson content in collaboration with seminar teachers. While students do regular grade checks and G.P.A. calculations, expanding the lesson may increase effectiveness, such as a week-long focus including a senior panel in the freshmen classes, a college field trip, and other activities to bridge the connection between freshman year and academics/postsecondary opportunities. We also reflected on our data collection. The pre-test was given to students before the start of the lesson and the post-test was administered toward the end of the school year. We felt it would be a more accurate snapshot given that there are multiple lessons/activities throughout the year (by counselors and seminar teachers) that emphasize the importance of G.P.A. and postsecondary access. This posed some logistical issues as seminar teachers weren’t able to administer the post-test to all freshmen due to a higher rate of absences at the end of the school year and Chromebook cart availability. Moving forward, we will administer the post-test after the completion of the first lesson.
The mental health lesson was relevant to our goals and the designated mindsets and behaviors, given that as counselors, we know that mental/socio-emotional health impacts academic engagement. The counselors planned the lesson for mental health awareness month, and students selected the topic via an administered survey. Freshman teachers also completed a survey. This data was used to inform the lesson’s focus. As we value student voice, we chose to focus on their top selection. Reflecting on the surveys, the team noted that it would be necessary to not only administer the needs assessment survey, but to include a pre-/post-test, aside from the end-of-year freshman survey. This will allow us to gain more detailed data on the student impact from the lesson.
The college match lesson assisted seniors in understanding match level according to SAT scores and G.P.A.. It’s important for students to use match level when determining which schools to apply to. There are large differences in graduation rates by college, especially for students with strong G.P.A.s. Historically, our high-achieving students have undermatched themselves with college applications and enrollment and this has implications for college persistence. We use findings from the Network for College Success to help students understand their match level using the College Selectivity Chart. This work continues throughout the year with reinforcements from the counselors, postsecondary coach, seminar teachers, and iMentor partner staff and mentors. The quarter one, three, and four surveys guide us toward keeping a pulse on students’ plans and intervening with students who are unsure or undermatching (i.e. a high-achieving student opting for a two-year college). The percentage of students who were unsure decreased by more than half from Q1 (32%) to Q3 (14.3%). These students receive additional tier 3 support to assist them in graduating with a concrete plan. The percentage of students intending to enroll in a 4-year college decreased from 46.3% (Q1) to 41.2% (Q3) while the 2-year college option more than doubles from 15.4% (Q1) to 35.7% (Q3). Students require coaching throughout the year to ensure they are applying to a balanced set of schools based on match level and fit. A more detailed survey should be created to gather data on the factors/barriers influencing students’ decision making so as to improve current lessons. Our college application data from Naviance as well as match application data from the NCS indicate the need to build on college-going identity curriculum.