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.