At North Grand High School, we are working on closing the gap between high achieving students and their enrollment at selective and highly selective schools. As a counseling department, and members of the Post-Secondary team, we disaggregated the data to dig deeper into our college enrollment and persistence numbers. After reviewing district data, we decided to look at the gender breakdowns and noticed that an alarming percentage of male students were not enrolling or persisting in college at the same rate as our female students. For the class of 2015, 52.9% of males persisted in college. Our goal is to increase male persistence to 55% for the class of 2016. Also, we have found that our males have lower GPA’s in comparison with that of our females. This could have direct impact on the type of college access our males have. All of this was taken into account when formulating our Closing the Gap goal.
After reviewing our 2015 college enrollment data, from the districts College and Career Portal, we were able to identify a big gap between our male and female students. Our overall college enrollment for that particular cohort was at 42.6%, female students making up 44% and males only 40%. We decided to partner with the iMentor organization as of the 2016-2017 school year. iMentor matches each student up with a working professional to provide mentorship services, especially during the college application process. Students are matched as of their junior year in high school and continue working with their mentors up until their sophomore year in college. Students communicate regularly with their mentor, meet face to face a few times a month during their lunchtime or school events, and mentors even attend college visits with their mentees.
The College Conferences are another activity the school counseling department utilizing to address these discrepancies. During College Conferences, the school counselors, along with the post-secondary coach, and iMentor personnel will meet with a small group of about 5-8 students and facilitate the conversations around college match, college fit, and the overall well-being of the student. We use a motivational interviewing approach where the students lead the conversation, they take it any direction they wish, in an effort to allow them time to resolve their own solutions. Hearing from peers is also a way for our students to learn from each other and come up with solutions together or on their own. The facilitator will also take that time to go over the students CAP report, which is an individual student’s data report on college applications completed, along with match results, current senior grades, current attendance and financial aid status (i.e. submitted FAFSA, not submitted or N/A).
While the College Conferences addresses all students, the counseling department also holds High Flyer meetings after school. High Flyers are students that possess at least a 3.0 GPA and at least a 940 SAT score. During the high flyer meetings, students receive individual support during the college application process, including personal statement writing, completing college applications, submitting financial aid applications and reviewing financial aid award letters. It also serves as a support group where students work with a school counselor, or post-secondary coach, and discuss other concerns related to being a first generation college student.
Throughout the school year, the counselors work collaboratively with the post-secondary coach and members of the Post-Secondary Leadership Team (PLT), including senior seminar teachers, to ensure students are receiving the supports they need. During our PLT meetings, we review data collected from district sources such as the CPS College and Career Data Portal and Naviance and Tableau reader which provides information on the college applications being submitted as well as the college match information.
Already, we are beginning to see an increase in our data in relation to our post-secondary work. According to preliminary data released from the 2016-2017 school year, our college enrollment is at 63.4%, with females enrolling at 69.1% and males at 57.6%. Data on persistence is not readily available, but we do use internal trackers, as well as the data from our partner iMentor, to get an idea of how what our persistence numbers are shaping up. While our overall numbers are increasing, we still see the discrepancy with the gender breakdowns when it comes to GPA’s and college access.The North-Grand High School counseling department will continue its efforts to close the gap to ensure all students have an equitable chance to succeed.