Robert E. Lee High School (2019)

Springfield , VA

Closing the Gap


The counseling team identified our closing the gap data at the department retreat in June of 2017. We knew we wanted to focus on increasing the on time graduation rate, since Lee High School’s average rate had been below the county average for several years. Knowing that research finds a direct correlation between 9th grade students who dropout and a 50% greater likeliness not to complete high school, it seemed clear that our goal needed to be focused on leading these students towards success. We looked at the number of students who were retained at the conclusion of their freshman year. When we analyzed the data, we noticed there were 12 students, all of whom were Hispanic males who failed five or more classes which prevented them from promotion to 10th grade. In addition, we were able to confirm that they were all economically disadvantaged, each qualifying to receive a free lunch.

Once we determined what group of students we would work with, we discussed our goal and looked at the ASCA mindsets and behaviors in order to create a focus for our interventions. Since there was a direct correlation between attendance and grades for these students, we knew we needed to include the mindset centered around a sense of belonging in the school. We then formulated our goal and made a plan for the lessons and interventions we would deliver for the 2017-18 school year. In order to really elicit change for these students, we knew this had to be a collaborative effort that involved parents, teachers, and other stakeholders. Research has shown that interventions focused on parent involvement, addressing behavior concerns, and providing social and emotional support for struggling students has had a positive impact on future success. The interventions we chose included a small group, Freshman Focus lessons, individual counseling, parent/teacher conferences, attendance contracts with administrator meetings, and involvement with the Systems of Support Administrator. In addition, outside community referrals were used when necessary. Historically for Lee, interventions we provided had a positive effect on this demographic of students. For example, in looking at data from the 2015-16 school year, 14 male Hispanic students were retained. Counselors provided interventions for these students which included small group, grade monitoring, Freshman Focus lessons and attendance contracts. At the conclusion of the school year, 50% of those students moved on to 10th grade while 50% were retained. Additionally, 86% of the targeted group had a decrease in days absent. One thing that we felt we could have improved on with these students was parent and teacher involvement. As a result, we included this in our interventions this time.

At the conclusion of the 2017-18 school year, 42% of students were double promoted to 11th grade and 33% were promoted to 10th grade. While we didn’t meet our goal of 75% moving to 11th grade, 75% of the students did move on. Our data has proven that individualized interventions for at risk students can be helpful in redirecting them towards success. With consideration to the 25% who were retained for a second time, we determined we needed to implement additional interventions to continue to focus our efforts on their success. Since attendance was a large concern for many of them, in the future we would like to create more preventative measures such as conducting home visits and meeting with parents with the hopes of eliminating the behavior from the start. We will also consider alternative placements for these students in order to increase the likelihood of them obtaining a high school diploma. While we would like to continue intervening with this group, we feel there are some aspects that need improvement. Considering our results were effective for many students, we don’t feel that we should discontinue any activities, but enhance and add more. For instance, more regular one on one counselor meetings which can help foster academic and emotional well being. This could be helpful to have ally in the building. In creating a closer bond with these students, we would aim to have a greater impact on their success. In addition, our data collection needs to be more accurate. Pre/post test questions need to better address Mindsets and Behaviors. For example, we could have included some questions revolving around their understanding of accountability and their awareness of how their decisions impact success. Additionally, it may have been beneficial to collect discipline data for these students to determine if this was a factor in their success.

Goal: By the end of the 2017-18 school year, 75% of the ninth grade male Hispanic/Latino students who were retained during the 2016-17 school year, will be double promoted to eleventh grade as compared to no students being double promoted during the 2015-16 school year.

Target Group: Ninth grade retained male Hispanic/Latino students.

Data Used to Identify Students: End of year transcript indicating less than 5 credits earned

School Counselor(s): Caldwell, Checcino, Ingrasci, Meiser, Quarles, Rodriguez, Rogin-Marks

ASCA Domain, Mindsets & Behaviors Standard(s): B-LS 7 B-LS 4 B-LS 3; B-SMS 7; B-SMS 6; B-SMS 5; B-SMS 1; B-SMS 2; M.1; M3

Type of Activities to be Delivered in What Manner?: Small Group Counseling- Throughout the year Parent/Teacher Conferences - as needed Grade Monitoring - throughout the year Attendance Team Interventions - as needed Freshman Focus Program - 4 lessons throughout the year Attendance Contracts - as needed Administrator Meetings - as needed

Process Data (Number of students affected): REVISED 12 ninth grade students 6 Small Group Lessons at 45 minutes each 4 Freshman Focus Lessons at one hour sessions

Perception Data (Surveys or assessments used): REVISED Pre/Post tests were administered at the first group session and at the last group session. 1. 33% of students surveyed were happy with their academic progress prior to the group sessions. 58% of students were happy with their academic progress at the conclusion of the group sessions. 2. After participating in the group, there was a 31% increase in student perception of completing homework on a regular basis. 3. 2 out of the 12 students felt that they knew how to manage their time well before the group started, versus 6 out of 12 after the conclusion of the group. 4. There was a 41% increase in students recognizing that outside influences affect their academic progress. 5. There was a 133% increase in student perception that they attend all classes regularly. 6. 6 out of 12 students turned their assignments in on time at the conclusion of the group as compared to 2 out of 12 prior to the interventions. 7. 0 students felt they had good study skills at the beginning of the year while 4 agreed with the statement at the conclusion of the year. 8. There was a 33% increase in student perception of classwork completion by the end of the year.

Outcome Data (Achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data): 33% of the students were promoted to 10th grade. 42% of the students were double promoted to 11th grade. 25% of the students were retained as 9th graders. 8 of the 12 students had at least a 15% decrease in days missed as compared to the 2016-17 school year. 4 of the 12 students had at least a 41% increase in days missed as compared to the 2016-17 school year. 10 of the 12 students had an increased GPA and 6 of the 10 had a GPA increase of at least 1 full point.

Implications: REVISED While we didn’t meet our 75% goal, many students benefited from small group as well as other individual interventions and we would like to continue these interventions in the future along with adding more support. More individualized time and attention working with students can be an effective way to facilitate them towards academic success. Meeting with a small group of students is helpful in encouraging good decision making. By participating in a small group, students were able to gain more confidence academically, emotionally, and socially. Additionally, students gained an understanding on how to apply self motivation and self direction to learning. (Mindsets & Behaviors) Having students meet individually with administrators and our Systems of Support Administrator, students were able to build rapport in order to make a connection with the school and their success. While attendance contracts were completed, it didn’t seem to be impactful in increasing students’ motivation to attend school. By collaborating with teachers and parents, we were able to work together to reach our students to try to eliminate their barriers to success. We would also consider adding additional data collection by obtaining perception data from teachers for each student in the group to get a better understanding of what is preventing them from being successful in each class. While students were able to recognize that outside influences directly impacted their academic success, more focus should be placed on students demonstrating the ability to assume responsibility(mindset & behavior). Activities could include more written self reflection throughout the year as well as one on one discussions with students. Perception data revealed only 4 students felt they had good study skills at the conclusion of the interventions. In the future, we would like to increase that number by providing more support and interventions around building good study skills. For the students who were unsuccessful, we will continue to implement interventions in order for them to achieve success. We will also investigate alternative placements that might be a better fit for these students in order to prevent them from dropping out.