When the department met at the end of 2016-2017, we analyzed data on attendance and grades and studied different programs we had implemented that year. Data showed areas where students needed extra assistance. An important area of concern was the freshman retention rate. When we originally created our program goal centering around retained freshmen, we knew that previous data analysis showed that students needed additional individualized Tier 3 attention. These 12 students, all of whom were Hispanic males, failed five or more classes which prevented them from promotion to 10th grade. The Success for Retained Students (SRS) group met six times to discuss study skills, motivation, goal setting, attendance, and the importance of being successful in school. Each of these topics were determined after identifying the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors that were important for the group to strive for. For example, research demonstrates that identifying short term and long term goals is connected to academic success and felt this was important to address. One counselor was very passionate about working with low achieving students and expressed interest in facilitating the group. The counselor tracked the students throughout the year and worked with their teachers to receive biweekly progress reports. By the conclusion of the school year, 42% of the students in the group were double promoted to 11th grade and 33% moved on to 10th grade.
The B.A.P.E.S (Beautiful And Progressive Educated Sisters) group is a support group for social/emotional, academic, and career related concerns for African American female students. The counselor who facilitates this group wanted to provide more targeted support for this group. After analyzing academic data, she determined these students weren’t working to their fullest potential and aimed to create lessons/interventions that assisted with this. There is a selection process and those accepted remain in the group for four years and meet biweekly.
Our Newcomer Group supports female ELL students. This group was developed for English Language Learners level 1 or 2 exhibiting the need for support in acclimating to the U.S. Data was gathered by teacher perceptions of students who were showing signs of mental health struggles during the first 4 weeks of arrival. Topics addressed included healthy body image, emotions, friendships, self esteem, healthy relationships, reunification concerns, and differences between their home country and the U.S. The counselor who facilitates this group is the ELL level 1 counselor who has come to recognize the need for emotional support for many of her immigrated students. There were 13 students in the group and they met 6 times throughout the year.
The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) group supports students who identify in one of those categories, or friends of students who identify. Students signed up to be members (no data collected). The group meets 14 times throughout the year and lessons involve coping with difficulties associated with acceptance, and building cohesion with fellow members. The counselor and teacher who lead the group wanted to provide a supportive environment for students struggling with their sexuality.
We were successful with the implementation of the four groups for the 2017-18 school year and will consider continuing to run them in the future. By looking at perception and outcome data, we can analyze the effectiveness of the skills our students have obtained and connect them to the mindsets and behaviors. For example,in the SRS group 50% of the students felt they gained better time management skills (B-LS 3 mindset).
Looking at outcome data, the counselors determined that changes were needed for future programming. For example, 25% of the retained students were retained again for a second time at the end of the year. Attendance was a large barrier to the success of these students. In the future, we would consider implementing a component that addresses parent accountability. Throughout the process, it became apparent that this group lacked parental support. Our hope would be to encourage parent involvement as an added encouragement for the goals of our program and student success. In addition, for students who were consistently absent, we would add a home visit element. We would also include better data collection in the pre/post test that reflected different mindsets and behaviors. For example, setting long and short term goals and overcoming barriers were identified mindsets and behaviors in various lessons, however, those were not directly addressed in the pre/post test. In order to better understand if our lessons/interventions were effective, it would be helpful to include these.