For the 2017-2018 school year seventeen different small groups were conducted at Key. Most addressed academic, attendance and behavior discrepancies that existed between student groups and were tied to the counseling vision, mission, and program goals. Staff members recommended one developmental group be offered at each grade level to all students and grade level teams decided on the topics. Kindergarten and first-grade groups focused on getting to know themselves better, second-grade on academic skills, third-grade on developmental assets and fourth and fifth grades were student-directed. Students who wanted to and had written parental permission attended. In total 145 groups were conducted by Laurie Dodson and two counseling interns in which 923 students participated, some more than once. The number of sessions per group ranged from five to nine. Groups ran all year and generally one group in each grade was conducted daily.
After data was analyzed, program goals were created, mindsets & behaviors were identified, and core curriculum lessons were developed. Data was further disaggregated and input from staff, the Individual Assistance Team (IAT), students and parents were used to identify discrepancies between student subgroups and individual students in need of additional support. Small groups were created to address program goals, issues not covered in core curriculum lessons, stakeholders’ requests, and the disaggregated data. Mindsets and behaviors were identified and lessons with developmentally appropriate and aligned interventions and activities were developed. Students who returned permissions slips participated and groups were announced in the annual calendar. Key’s outcome data and perception data from core curriculum lessons were reviewed periodically, necessitating the creation of new groups or the addition of new students into existing groups.
The group highlighted in this section focused on decreasing absences. Research shows that chronic absences during the elementary years is a key predictor in lower test scores and school dropout. Many of Key’s students with attendance issues are also academically delayed. Together with the attendance team, we viewed individual student data and identified thirty-seven students with more than ten absences, focusing on students with academic issues and chronic attendance problems. I met with each student, gave them permission slips and twenty-eight students returned signed forms.
Six lessons focused on providing students with the attitudes, knowledge and skills needed to come to school on time every day. Topics included importance of attendance and attitude, goal setting, habits and routines, belonging, self-advocacy, and future implications. An assortment of activities were implemented to support identified mindsets and behaviors including discussions, powerpoint presentations, videos, worksheets and roleplays. In addition to the lessons, a monthly attendance calendar for each participant was started during group and maintained every month afterwards.
Process data showed twenty-eight students participated in all six sessions. Perception data indicated the group was successful in helping students acquire expected attitudes, knowledge and skills. Posttest results showed 89% of students believed in the importance of coming to school (M6A), 86% believed they can do well in school (B-SS8A/SE), 93% have the skills to set and achieve goals (B-LS7A), 86% have the skills needed to come to school on-time (B-LS3A/SE), 89% know they belong at school (M3A/SE) and 96% know their education will help their future (M4A/C/SE).
Outcome data showed all participants decreased in at least one area of attendance, absences or tardies, and 57% showed a decrease in both areas. For absences, 89% of student participants showed a decrease from last year to this year and 68% of students showed a decrease in tardies. Key’s overall average percentage of daily absences went from 4.27% for the 2016-2017 school year to 3.95% for the 2017-2018, a percentage change of -7.49%. We met our goal of a 3% reduction.
Small-group services appeared to positively impact student success as demonstrated by the strong perception and outcome data. Next year I plan to change the timing of all attendance group to begin in January as Key’s attendance significantly dipped this year during January and February. I will incorporate more videos and house monthly attendance calendars in students’ homeroom class as suggested by group participants. I initially thought if I helped students demonstrate advocacy skills (B-SS8A/SE) this would lead to the belief they can do well in school. Students made it clear they really needed effective coping skills when faced with a problem (B-SMS7A/SE). So, B-SS8A/SE will be dropped and B-SMS7A/SE will be added. I plan to continue disaggregating attendance data, work closely with Key’s attendance team, conduct this group, and focus on preventative measures to increase attendance rates.
Group Name: Attendance HERO (Here Every-day Ready On-time)
Goal: School Counseling Program Goal - By June 2018, the average percentage of daily absences will be reduced by 3% overall (from 4.27% to at least 4.14%) and by 3% for each quarter of the 2017-2018 school year when compared to last year’s (2016-2017) corresponding quarterly data; first quarter 3.215% to at least 3.115%; second quarter 4.87% to at least 4.72%; third quarter 5.53% to at least 5.36%; and four quarter 3.48% to at least 3.375%.
Target Group: Students in grades three through five with either excessive absences and/or tardies or with a history of excessive absences and/or tardies during the previous school year
Data Used to Identify Students: Synergy, Arlington Public School Insight Data Warehouse
School Counselor(s): Laurie Dodson
ASCA Domain, Mindsets & Behaviors Standard(s): Lesson 1: M6A – Positive attitude toward work and learning
Lesson 2: B-LS7A – Identify long- and short- term academic, career and social/emotional goals
Lesson 3: B-LS3A/SE – Use time-management, organizational and study skills
Lesson 4: M3A/SE – Sense of belonging in the school environment
Lesson 5: B-SS8A/SE – Demonstrate advocacy skills and ability to assert self, when necessary
Lesson 6: M4A/C/SE – Understanding that postsecondary education and life-long learning are necessary for long-term career success
Outline of Group Sessions Delivered: Attendance – 6 lessons focused on providing students with attendance issues with the attitudes, knowledge and skills they need to come to school on time every day
Lesson 1 – Importance of Attendance and Attitude: After taking a pretest, group rules and a group overview will be provided. Attendance information will be shared and students will reflect on their own attendance and the importance of school. Students will examine their attitude and work on changing negative/unpleasant thoughts into positive thoughts, feelings and behavior.
Lesson 2 – Goal Setting / Mindsets for Success: Students will discuss what goals are, why people set goals and what good goals look like. They will write a goal related to improving their attendance and they will write two or three steps to help them achieve their goal.
Lesson 3 – Habits and Routines to Make Getting to School Easier: Students will learn about habits. They will watch and discuss videos about nighttime habits and morning habits that make it easier to get to school on time. Students will then create their own evening and morning routines.
Lesson 4 – School as a Place to Belong / Building Healthy Relationships: Students will explore the concept of belonging and times when they felt they belonged and times when they felt they did not belong. Ways to connect with others will be discussed, with emphasize on body language. Students will practice connecting with others in positive and negative ways and note the differences.
Lesson 5 – Advocating for Yourself: Students will learn what self-advocacy is and how to properly advocate for their needs. Students will practice self-advocating during role-plays.
Lesson 6 – Looking Forward to a Bright Future: Students will explore why attendance at school is important. They will then discuss how attendance is not only important now but will be important in future schooling and in their careers. Students will discuss consequences of poor attendance on the job.
Process Data (Number of students affected): REVISED: Six 30-minute sessions presented to five groups
28 total students: 7 students in 3rd grade participated, 12 students in 4th grade participated, 9 students in 5th grade participated
Group 1: Seven 3rd grade students
Session 1 – 7/7 = 100%
Session 2 – 6/7 = 86%
Session 3 – 6/7 = 86%
Session 4 – 7/7 = 100%
Session 5 – 7/7 = 100%
Session 6 – 7/7 = 100%
Group 2: Six 4th grade students
Session 1 – 6/6 = 100%
Session 2 – 5/6 = 83%
Session 3 – 5/6 = 83%
Session 4 – 5/6 = 83%
Session 5 – 5/6 = 83%
Session 6 – 6/6 = 100%
Group 3: Six 4th grade students
Session 1 – 6/6 = 100%
Session 2 – 5/6 = 83%
Session 3 – 6/6 = 100%
Session 4 – 5/6 = 83%
Session 5 – 6/6 = 100%
Session 6 – 6/6 = 100%
Group 4: Five 5th grade students
Session 1 – 5/5 = 100%
Session 2 – 5/5 = 100%
Session 3 – 4/5 = 80%
Session 4 – 4/5 = 80%
Session 5 – 5/5 = 100%
Session 6 – 5/5 = 100%
Group 5: Four 5th grade students
Session 1 – 4/4 = 100%
Session 2 – 4/4 = 100%
Session 3 – 4/4 = 100%
Session 4 – 4/4 = 100%
Session 5 – 4/4 = 100%
Session 6 – 4/4 = 100%
Any student who was absent on the day of group was able to do the same lesson with another group on a different day. Therefore, 100% of students attended every group and received all group materials.
All students attended all six sessions and actively participated
28/28 (100%) of students completed the pretest
28/28 (100%) of students completed the posttest
28/28 (100%) of students completed all worksheets
Perception Data (Surveys or assessments used): Written pre-assessments were completed by all students at the beginning of lesson one. Written post- assessments were completed by all students at the end of lesson three.
Pre/Post Test Results:
1. Believe coming to school every day and being on time is important
Pre: 43% Post: 89%
107% increase in attitude/belief
2. Believe they can do well in school
Pre: 32% Post: 86%
169% Increase in attitude/belief
3. Have skills to set goals and achieve them
Pre: 14% Post: 93%
564% increase in skill
4. Have the skills needed to come to school on-time every day
Pre: 18% Post: 86%
378% increase in skill
5. Know they have a place at school; know they belong
Pre: 32% Post: 89%
178% increase in knowledge
6. Know an education will help their future
Pre: 54% Post: 96%
78% increase in knowledge
Average Pre: 32%
Average Post: 90%
Average Increase in Attitude/Knowledge/Skills: 342%
Outcome Data (Achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data): Key’s overall average percentage of daily absences went from 4.27% for the 2016-2017 school year to 3.95% for the 2017-2018, a percentage change of -7.49%. We more than met our goal of a 3% reduction. In addition, we wanted to see a 3% reduction every quarter when compared to the corresponding quarter for the previous year. First quarter, absences decrease by -15.3%, third quarter absences decreased by -9.76%, and in the fourth quarter absences decreased by -6.32%. The second quarter saw a decrease of -0.62%, which was less than the 3% decrease hoped before, but still a decrease.
For the twenty-eight participants in the Attendance HERO small group, we wanted to see at least one area of attendance (absences or tardies) decrease by 5% for all members from their total number during the 2016-2017 school year to their total number in the 2017-2018 school year. All students 28/28 (100%) showed a decrease in at least one area of attendance. 16/28 (57%) of the participants showed a decrease in both areas. 5/28 (18%) students showed an increase in one area and 7/28 (25%) students showed no change in one area. Decreases ranged from -10% to -100%.
In the area of absences, 25/28 (89%) students showed a decrease in their number of absences from last year to this year. The percentage change ranged from -10% to -88%. The average percent change was -51.08%.
In the area of absences, three students showed an increase in their number of absences from last year to this year. Two students had two more absences this year when compared to last year. One student had one more absence this year but because the total number was so high an attendance IAT was conducted and an attendance plan was created. Unfortunately, this had no positive effect on the student's attendance.
In the area of tardies, 19/28 (68%) students showed a decrease in their number of tardies from last year to this year. The percent change range for the nineteen students who lowered their tardies went from -14% to -100%. The average percent change was -71%. Of the students who did not show a decrease in tardies 9/28 (32%), seven students showed no change in tardies. Two of those students had no tardies both years. Four students had two tardies both years. One student had eight tardies both years. One student went from no tardies the previous year to two tardies this year, both were excused for doctor's appointments. One student went from three tardies to ten tardies. This student was encouraged to come to school late instead of staying home, which is what they did the previous year.
Implications: REVISED: Lessons supported the identified ASCA mindsets and behaviors and the results indicated that they had favorable impact on student attained attitudes, knowledge and skills as demonstrated by the collected perception data. In lesson 1: Importance of Attendance and Attitude, we worked on the importance of having a positive attitude toward work and learning (M6A) and saw a 107% increase in the attitude/belief that coming to school every day and being on time is important. In lesson 2: Goal Setting / Mindsets for Success, we helped students identify and make long- and short- term goals (B-LS7A) and saw a 564% increase in their perception of having the skills needed to set goals and achieve them. In lesson 3: Habits and Routines to Make Getting to School Easier, we worked with students on gaining time-management and organizational skills (B-LS3A/SE) and as a result, we saw a 378% increase in their perception of them having the skills needed to come to school on-time, every day. In lesson 4: School as a Place to Belong / Building Healthy Relationships, we helped students understand what it means to have a sense that they belong in the school environment (M3A/SE) and saw a 178% increase in their knowledge that they have a place at school; they know they belong. In lesson 5: Advocating for Yourself, we helped learn students the skills needed to advocate for themselves when necessary (B-SS8A/SE) and saw a 107% increase in the belief that they can do well in school. Finally, in lesson 6: Looking Forward to a Bright Future, we worked to increase their understanding that postsecondary education and life-long learning are necessary for long-term career success (M4A/C/SE) and saw a 78% increase in the knowledge that an education will help their future. Next year, I will keep doing this attendance group and continue to focus on the mindsets and behaviors M6A, B-LS7A, B-LS3A/SE, M3A/SE, and M4A/C/SE. I realized during the lessons that advocating for yourself (B-SS8A/SE) never really matched up to my evaluation question of believing you can do well in school. I taught advocacy and during the students’ discussions I struggle with connecting the behavior to the belief that they can do well in school. Based on student feedback, I feel the issue holding students back is due to their struggles with effective coping skills when faced with a problem. Students reported staying home when they are having conflicts with friends or are angry with their teacher. Therefore, the behavior B-SMS7A/SE will be added as a focus and the question about believing they can do well in school will be taken out and replaced with “I am able to list 3 ways that I can solve problems that will get me to school on time.
Perception data strongly shows that students are acquiring the attitudes, knowledge and skills associated with the identified mindsets & behaviors needed to decrease both absences and tardies. The area with the lowest percent change (78%) was simply because more than half of the students started off with the knowledge of the importance of an education for their future. I will not ask this specific question in the future. However, I do think that students aren’t able to make a clear connection between their attendance in school and their future success. Therefore, I will ask a more specific question that relates to the ‘Attendance Works’ research that indicates - missing 10 percent or more of school days due to absence for any reason—excused, unexcused absences and suspensions - can translate into third-graders unable to master reading and sixth-graders failing subjects and ninth graders dropping out of high school.
One notably concerning piece of information gained from the perception data was the fact that one student scored lower on her posttest in almost every area when compared to the rest of the participants. This student also had over twenty absences during the school year. When the group ended, I began to support this student with individual counseling sessions. Feedback from participants highlighted two recommendations. Sixteen of the 28 students (57%) reported that it was hard for them to come to the gym to stamp in each morning as they usually had just enough time to get to class without being tardy. To address this, next year I will be ask homeroom teachers to house the calendars in classrooms. Eight of the 28 students (29%) said I could improve the lessons by showing more videos. Next year I will offer lessons that continue to target students’ needs but will also incorporate more videos to accommodate student feedback.
Outcome data demonstrates that the lessons were effective in helping students apply the attitudes, knowledge and skills they acquired to their everyday life. Both Key’s counseling attendance program goal and the goal for this small group were met.
As previously stated, the second quarter only saw a decrease of -0.62%. A parent mentioned during the counseling advisory committee meeting at the end of January 2018 that she knew several parents keeping their children home because of the ICE scare. Our January absentee rate was very high and this was when media reports about raids were increasing. Our PTA held an information night for parents to correct misinformation, provide legal support and alleviate fears. This also helped improve attendance.
This points to the importance of including parents and next year, I will make sure we are involving parents more, as attendance issues in elementary school are usually a result of student and parent issues. Most of our students who are late, are driven to school by a parent. Many of the students who stay home frequently have a parent working at home. I plan on sponsoring a coffee and donuts chat for parents of the participants to increase their sense of belonging in the school, to provide them with the research which clearly shows the importance of school attendance and to allow them an opportunity to problem-solve their attendance issues with other parents.
Working on decreasing the percentages of absences and tardies has helped me realize how important collaboration between all stakeholders is. I am more successful with helping students if I can involve parents, classroom teachers, all staff that work with the students, administrators and the social worker. Positive changes will continue to happen as we all work together.