Through small group responsive services, the vision and mission of our counseling department was supported by conducting a ten-student group of individuals at risk of retention. This group was important and necessary to provide students with the tools they need to advance to 9th grade. Retention and promotion is a specific need at McClure that is being addressed on a school-wide level. These specific students were selected by recommendations from teachers, parents, and administration. A snapshot of each student’s course grades showed missing assignments and failing test grades. The teacher recommendations helped determine that students were struggling with academics due to organization and other related issues.
Retention candidates were initially considered as group members, from that group, we then used data such as grades and teachers observations to determine who would best benefit from a group dynamic. To reach our program goal of reducing the number of students that meet the retention requirements during the quarter by 50%, a small group was created for 8th grade students to teach them study and organizational skills. The counselors also had individual retention meetings with all students to come up with strategies to help them succeed. We extended a small group invitation to all students on the retention list except those that teachers indicated would struggle working in a small group setting. Ten students either returned their invitations or the counselors reached out parents to ensure the appropriate permissions. The goal was set for 100% of all students in the group to be promoted to high school. The small group met 6 times and covered a variety of topics including goal setting, learning styles, organization, and studying techniques. Results from this group indicated that all 10 members were either promoted or placed into 9th grade; no student from the group was retained in 8th grade.
This group was not without obstacles and challenges. We began mid-March, the week before spring break, and finished the first of May. This lead to two large gaps in meeting, one two-week gap for Milestones testing and a one-week gap for spring break. We believe starting this small group so that it culminated before spring break would be more beneficial for the students. This would avoid gaps in the meeting schedule and give the students more time to use the skills they learned to enhance their grades. Attendance varied from 50-100% for all members. This was due to both students’ academic teachers having priority and student absenteeism. To work towards a higher attendance rate, we believe more communication with teachers may help them understand the necessity of this small group. As a team, we will take all of these challenges and turn them into learning opportunities to enhance positive systemic change. After graduation from the small group, members were prepared to overcome previous barriers to learning, assume responsibility for their academic success, and set higher standards of quality for themselves. (ASCA B-SMS 6, B-SMS 1, & B-LS 6). To better target our Mindsets and Behaviors, we will create some questionnaires that allow the students to tell us where they fall on a Likert scale in accordance with the M&B’s. That way we can address the more specific skills.
We intend to use this small group lesson plan next school year. One change is to run the group twice; once during 1st semester and again in early spring. Running the group twice allows us to impact more students before the grades are finalized at the end of the year. Additionally, we would include perception data checkpoints during each small group session instead of throughout the series. We would also incorporate additional opportunities for outcome data. Finally, we would like to add additional groups into our curriculum; this was a scheduling conflict for us this year. We truly see the value and impact of small groups, and we need to be intentional about how to schedule these in a way that will fit into our students’ and teachers’ schedules.