Hidden Hills Elementary school has one School Counselor that serves 366 students from TK through 5th grade. The core curriculum action plan supports our school wide focus of The Energy Bus initiative, the ASCA mindsets and behaviors, state mandates, and the counseling competencies and standards set forth by the district. At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, the School Counselor spent approximately 56 hours in core curriculum lessons, reaching all students over the course of 85 classroom lessons. These lessons covered a variety of topics aimed at increasing student competencies in social-emotional and behavior including: managing strong emotions, dealing with conflicts, test taking strategies, solving problems and more. There has not been a widely used standard for behavioral referrals at Hidden Hills, making it difficult to ascertain outcome data that is directly linked to the effectiveness of the Second Step Lessons. However, the undeniable links between social-emotional health and both academic and social success makes academic results a viable source of outcome data.
The lessons included are examples from the Second Step curriculum, an evidenced based program and are linked to the School Counseling program vision and mission. Students are acquiring skills for scholarly, emotional and relational success that will help them become lifelong learners and caring citizens in their future academic and career pursuits.
#1: Respecting Differences
The 2nd grade lesson, taught to 56 students during classroom instruction time, addressed the overarching theme of empathy and respect specifically when it comes to differences. This lesson taught students that having empathy helps you notice when others have different preferences than you do, and that respecting different preferences helps you get along better with others. As students develop their ability to have empathy, its important they learn to interpret others’ feelings accurately. Perspective taking is critical for working in academic groups, making friends, and successfully resolving interpersonal conflicts.
#2: Problem Solving
The 2nd and 3rd grade lessons was taught to 112 students over two weeks. Lessons were geared on teaching students the skills to calm down, problem solving steps, and saying the problem without blame. Students who are more skilled problem solvers get along better with peers and have fewer conflicts and problems with aggression.
#3: Empathy and Respect
The 4th and 5th grade lessons, taught to 120 students during classroom instruction time, laid the foundation for the Second Step curriculum by teaching respect and empathy. Empathy and communication skills have been shown to increase social and academic success and decrease youth involvement in problem behaviors. Empathy is a crucial component of healthy communication and interpersonal relationships. Empathy and respect are taught throughout the entire curriculum.
Results from pre and post surveys illustrated an increase in student positive attitude, skills, and knowledge in regards to social and emotional issues. Furthermore, students showed a great improvement in outcome data:. The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CASPP) results indicate a significant improvement in academic test scores, in English Language Arts and Math. In 2017 48.34% of 3rd graders met or exceeded standard level, while in 2018 59.02% of those same students, who are now 4th graders met or exceeded standard level. In the future we plan to keep track of and use outcome data more closely related to student behavior, such as school-wide disciplinary numbers that detail more than school wide suspensions. School wide suspension rates decreased by 40%, from 5 suspensions in 2016-2017 school year, to 3 suspensions in the 2017-2018 school year.
All core curriculum lessons are pre-determined by the school district. As a district, we use the Second Step evidenced based curriculum. Student perception data from our pre/post survey illustrates a greater understanding of the social/emotional topics covered. For example, 58% of second grade students were able to identify all three examples of respect before lessons were delivered, while 64% of students were able to identify all three examples of respect after. Due to the success of the program, we will continue to use and add additional Second Step lessons.
Additionally, rather than focusing on grade level blocks for a six-week period, we want to ensure our classroom presence year round. Therefore, we will present a classroom lesson per grade each month of the year. Active classroom support will encourage students to build their social skills throughout the year and serve as a constant reminder to all students of the support by their school counselor. Lastly, it will identify long-term impact on student knowledge, skills, and attitude changes through our pre-post