Small groups are an integral part of the counseling department at Powder Springs Elementary School. During the school year, we conducted 12 small groups, addressing the social/emotional and academic needs of students served, while also operating within our vision, mission, and goals. According to the student needs assessment, 30% of 3rd-5th grade students indicated needing help with self-management skills, which aligned with the high number (274) of office discipline referrals (ODRs) in 2016-2017. Feedback on the teacher needs assessment indicated that students were struggling with social skills and self-control. From this data, we formed social skills groups, targeting M:5 and B:SMS:2, B:SMS:4, and B:SMS:7, and self-control groups, targeting M:3 and B:SS:1 and B:SS:2.
Through individual counseling, we found that a theme of low self-esteem was emerging among our 5th grade girls. The Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale was given to all 5th grade girls to identify students with significantly low self-esteem. The group was designed to target M:2 and behaviors B:SS:2 and B:SS:8 with an arts integrated component (B:LS:2). Through collaboration with social worker and community members, we recognized mid-year that students in foster care were vulnerable and in need of additional support. A cross-grade level support group was developed to increase a sense of belonging (M:3), help with family transitions (B:SMS:10), and develop supportive relationships (B:SS:2 & B:SS:3).
On the 2017 Georgia Milestones End of Grade (EOG) assessment, 49% of 3rd-5th grade students performed “below proficient” in English Language Arts. Teachers’ responses indicated that students struggled with using their abilities to the fullest (M:5), self-motivation (B:LS:4), and personal relationships (B:SS:2)., Additionally a cohort of these students were not receiving other support services. To support these students, a peer mentoring reading group was developed to target these specific M&B’s. We also developed A Building Math Confidence group to support students that were score below proficient on the Math Inventory (MI) and is the focus of the results report.
On the Fall MI, 50% of all students scored below proficient. Since 5th grade is a high stakes year, with passing of the EOG linked to promotion, we sought to help students increase math confidence and performance. The student needs assessment revealed that students considered test anxiety among the highest of their academic concerns. We discussed selecting mindsets that would increase confidence in their abilities (M:2 & M:6) and behaviors that would promote perseverance to overcome barriers to learning ( BLS:7,B:SMS:5, & BSMS:6 ) and coping skills for anxiety (B:SMS:7). We narrowed our mindsets to one that would best reduce math anxiety and build confidence (M:2), behaviors that would help overcome anxiety (BSMS:6) and equip with coping skills (BSMS:7). To identify how anxiety might impact math achievement, we administered the Math Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC) in 5th grade and identified students experiencing high levels of anxiety. We then analyzed MI scores and narrowed the group to students who scored 100-150 points below proficient and were not receiving Early Intervention Program (EIP) or Special Education services.
A pre-survey assessed the students’ attitudes related to their math abilities and their knowledge and application of coping skills. The group met for 6 sessions with lesson topics directly aligned with the selected M&B’s. To measure effectiveness, we administered a post-survey to compare qualitative data regarding participants’ perceptions of their confidence in their math abilities (M:2), perseverance to overcome anxiety (B:SMS:6) and knowledge and application of coping skills (B:SMS:7). In comparison of pre- and post-MASC scores indicated a reduction of math anxiety with a mean of 11.23 points. Participants showed an overall average growth of 183 points on the MI from Fall to Spring MI scores and 11 of the 13 participants passed the math portion of the EOG.
With these positive results, we will continue the math confidence group and consider adding 3rd and 4th grade groups for earlier intervention. Additionally, we will review incorporating techniques and coping skills in core curriculum classes in 3rd-5th grade. Though we were pleased with the results, for clearer analysis and fidelity purposes, we will revise the qualitative post-test to read the same as the pre-test. Given the smaller increase in MI scores from Winter to Spring (63 points), we discussed creating a longer standing group to support students over both semesters.