Thursday, April 30, 2015

Day 9 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

 Day 9 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge.  We collected all the big stuff, the data most people think of and include in their data search like grades, attendance, discipline, and school climate during days 2-8.  Today was for collecting any other data that gives you insights to your students.  If I hadn't included my bully/cyberbully survey data with my School Climate data, I think I would have put it here. Did you have some special data that you gathered today? Something that is unique to your school?  If so please share it in the comments below or on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page.

Tomorrow is Day 10 and it is time to start disaggregating all the goodies we've gathered.  We'll start with attendance data. Take a look, study the data, and find out what it says about your school.  I think it is important to remember something a good friend of mine says and I'm paraphrasing a bit here,"The data is not right or wrong.  It makes no judgments. You have to look at it and make judgments for yourself about your school." So take a look.  Discover the needs of your students and your school and create a goal.

Want more information about the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge?
Check it out HERE.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Day 8 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

Day 8 was great! Today we were collecting any kind of climate survey data. It was easy, easy, glitch.

When I asked my administrators for the School Improvement climate surveys I got the results immediately and went right to the copier and made copies.  I already had my student bully/cyberbully survey results, now all I needed was teacher PBIS survey data.  Only none of us knows where it is, or can  think of what it would have been called and saved as on our computers.  I see I need to create a special data folder on my computer for the future.

Maybe our Behavior Leadership Team (BLT) just talked about doing it in the fall, but never really got around to making it happen.  I know I don't remember filling out the survey, but after all that was September and A LOT has happened since then.  So we will search some more tomorrow and perhaps do the survey before the year is over.  I think that would be just as a valuable. Checking to see where our staff feels we stand with our PBIS program at the end of the year will give us a better idea of the kind of plans we need to make for next year.

Tomorrow is Day 9 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge.  It is the day you collect any other data that is unique or relevant to your school.  What sources of data will you be adding to your data notebook tomorrow? If you can't think of any other data you need, use the day to organize the data you've gathered. I have to confess my data is not hole punched yet and just stuffed in the front of my notebook. But I have all the tabs ready to go, all I have to do is put it in. Tomorrow.

If you are interested in learning more about the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge you can read more about it HERE.  Be sure to check out the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page to share your data gathering experiences.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Day 7 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

Hey, hey, hey, it's Day 7 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge!  How are you doing?  Have you been able to do one small task each day?  We are one-third of the way through!

Today's challenge was to find your Early Warning System data. For anyone unfamiliar with that term it is describing students who will need extra attention and support from the School Counselor.  These students may also be referred to as students at risk or in danger of dropping out. County by county state by state, each one has a a different name and different criteria for identifying this group.  In my county students with excessive discipline referrals, suspensions and absences are on this list.  As are students who are over age for their grade, have been retained, receive ESE or ELL services or scored a 1 or 2 on state standardized testing.

The good news is I found the Early Warning System data with no problem.  However there were 2 report options distinguished only by a numerical code.  So I just chose one and printed it.  It was not the report I have seen in the past, but it had all the data I needed.  I was satisfied. But then, being the curious type, I just had to go for the second report.  So I selected report #2, clicked to print, and my computer screen did a blip.  Anyone with an ancient school system computer knows that is never a good thing.  However, I was still at the same screen but now with a red lettered message that told me I was not authorized to view that report.  Okay fine, I had my data, but now I am locked out of  viewing or printing any reports at all. That's going to be a problem.  I don't know what was so super secret about report #2, but it must be a doozy and now I really want to know what I am not authorized to view!

Tomorrow is Day 8 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge. Our task is to locate Climate Survey Data of any and all types.  I know our School Improvement Committee did a climate survey with parents, teachers, and students. That means 3 separate sets of data.  As a Behavior Leadership Team (aka the BLT, not the sandwich) we are interested in surveying our faculty regarding our PBIS plan. That 's another set of data. And last of all, each year I like to survey my 3rd-5th grade students on their internet usage and their experiences with bullying and cyber-bullying.  What kind of data regarding school climate is available at your school?

Just a reminder if you would like to know more about the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge you can read all about it HERE.  There is still time to join!
Also please stop by the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page to give us a like or leave comments or photos related to your data round-up.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Day 6 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

Day 6 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge and I'm on the hunt!

Locating the report card data for D's and F's was easy. However, finding the conduct data on the report cards was a different story.  My search on 2 different platforms for housing data at my district were unsuccessful.  No worries though, my talented School Psychologist is great at pulling all sorts of data, so she will be my "go to" person on her next visit to my school.

The report card data I found is on an electronic grade book system we use in our district and approved staff are able to pull specific reports for grades, attendance, and behavior.  I found some cool reports I did not know existed, like a student profile report.  This report gives a student's attendance, grades, and any discipline referrals all in one personalized sheet.  What a great resource when meeting with students for any of these critical areas to show how one impacts the other.  I was excited to find this one!  It's amazing the helpful reports available on your district's computer platform if you just have the time and know where to look. Part of what I love about this data challenge is how it has gotten me looking at some resources I had not explored before.

I think the most shocking thing about today's data challenge was the number of students with D's and F's.  This will require some deeper digging and hopefully will correlate with the conduct/effort/social rating of each student.  I can tell already I have my work cut out for me with so many D's and F's.

Tomorrow is Day 7 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge.  The challenge is to locate Early Warning System data.  Just in case the term Early Warning System is not familiar to you, it is also called "students at risk," "drop-out prevention," or some other name that refers to students who may meet many of the following criteria: are over age for their grade, have been retained, receive ESE or ESOL services, have D's or F's, have standardized test scores below expectations, have excessive absences, and have excessive discipline referrals.  The criteria and name may be different in your district but I imagine you have something similar to this that helps identify those students who may need more of your services.

Please be sure to share your experiences on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page and please give it a LIKE.  If you are not familiar with the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge, you can read more about it HERE.

We're one third of the way through! (and it's still not to late to join) I hope you are learning where your data is located, and how you can access it for yourself.  This is an awesome thing you are doing to move your School Counseling program in a data driven direction. Data driven results not only show how students are different because of what School Counselors do, but it shows  your administrators the the value you can add to your school! Keep up the good work!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Day 5 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

It's Day 5 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge and today was about the discipline data. This challenge was particularly easy for me because I already had all the data on my computer in folders.  Somehow, about 7 years ago, I was fortunate enough to get in the email group of individuals who receive this data from the district each quarter. This is the data I have used most consistently for the last 7 years, but I realize now not as effectively as I could have. And that's okay, because this challenge is about learning and growing and making changes not just in how we use data, but in how we view the data we are using.

As I printed and reviewed  the multiple tabs included with my discipline data report, I realized I needed a form to summarize it all on one page. My discipline data comes in an Excel file with 9 tabs.  Each tab contains a page listing data and putting it in a colorful circle graph. This is all very nice, but I really think I need to get work on creating a summary page for a quick view and easier comparison. Maybe some of you feel the same way after looking at your discipline report data.   I plan to have a form ready by the time we start disaggregating discipline data on Day 11.

Monday will be Day 6 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge and we will be gathering report card data on the D's and F's and unsatisfactory marks in conduct.  This data can be a great source for study skills and social skills groups. Gathering the report card data is going to be difficult for me because these are reports I don't know how to run. I have a few ideas about who might be able to help and I'm not afraid to ask. Locating data is kind of like a Scavenger Hunt I think. The hunt can be frustrating, but the find is exciting.

If you are participating in the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge, please share your experiences on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page.  If you are hearing about the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge for the first time and interested in learning more, you can read more about it HERE.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day 4 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

Welcome to Day 4 of the Daily Data Challenge.  Today's challenge was gathering attendance data.  So how did you do?

I ran the report for students with 15 or more unexcused absences year to date.  There were only a couple of surprises and I felt pretty good about that.  My School Social Worker and I have been working to keep tabs on these students and meet with their parents.  I also found a couple of reports I didn't know existed.  One is an attendance break down by number of students absent at 0-10 days, 11-20 days, and 21+ days.  Just by skimming it I learned my  biggest attendance problem is in first grade.

Another report I found was number students absent at 0-10 days, 11-20 days and 21+days broken down by race, gender, ESE, and ELL.  With just a cursory look, I could see my African-American students had the best overall attendance and my Hispanic students needed the most improvement.  I never knew about these reports and was excited to find them.  It's easy to see how they will be an important part of my data review.  As I am typing this I realize I got so excited about the 2 new reports I didn't run the reports for tardy students and those with 15 or more excused absences. Oh well, there's always tomorrow!

And speaking of tomorrow, our data challenge for Day 5 is discipline data.  My district provides a great report with some awesome breakdowns including gender, ethnicity, ESE, location and type of offense, day of the week, and time of day.  Be sure to get all the data you can, not just for the most recent grading period, but for the whole year.  You want to be able to look at trends.  And if your district is like mine, all of this year's data gets purged during the summer so gather all you can now!

If you are interested in joining the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge check out all the details HERE.  It's not to late to jump right in and join us.  Also, please stop by the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page and share how your challenge is going.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 3 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

It's Day 3  of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge and it was about locating your School Improvement goals.  I am embarrassed to say, but I had only a vague idea of what the School Improvement goals were for my school (something about writing) and  I had absolutely no idea where to find them.  Luckily, I went to the source of all knowledge in our school, the Principal's secretary, and she located the School Improvement Plan with goals inside and I was set.  I discovered however, my school only has one goal. It was about writing and it was very generic. Maybe that's how School Improvement goals are supposed to be?  I was expecting it to be more specific, more quantifiable.  Our one goal goes like this: "All teachers will collaboratively establish expectations for high quality writing instruction and student feeback in the content areas, as they consistently meet those expectations in the classroom."  See what I mean?  Very generic.  I have been trying to incorporate more writing in my classroom lessons by using Interactive Student Notebooks (but that is another post).  I'm just not sure how we measure, as a school, if we met our goal.

How did your search go for your School Improvement goals?  Did you know what they were?  Were you surprised at their content?  Were yours more specific than mine?  Do you see how you could possibly support the School Improvement goals in your school counseling program?  Remember I am interested in hearing your experiences.  Please share them each day on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page or in the comment section below.

Tomorrow is Day 4 and it is about collecting attendance data.  I learned how to find this on our district's computer system last school year, but I've only ever seen it listed by name and number of absences and tardies.  I am hoping there may be a report by gender, grade and ethnicity  for my school or I'm going to be doing some calculating by hand!

If you are interested in the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge you may join us at anytime in the process. The idea is to get into the data for your school to enable you to make evidence based decisions that empower you and drive your school counseling program.  Go to the link HERE for all the details.

Happy Data Hunting!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Day 2 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

Welcome to Day 2 of the21  Day Daily Data Challenge!  Well I have to admit, I thought there might be some challenges in this challenge, but I didn't think I would encounter them on Day 2!  Life happens to a School Counselor and we make choices about our day and some are made for us.  Which upon reflection tells me I need to take care of my daily data challenge first thing if at all possible.  A forgotten meeting, (I'm sure that kind of thing never happens to you) two hysterical students, 3 classroom lessons and an impromptu but very productive data chat with my school psychologist meant very little time left to collect today's data.  But I did get most of it, with a promise from my very exceptional front office receptionist to hunt down the rest first thing tomorrow.  Two of the things I noticed that are not on the ASCA Data School Profile Sheet is free and reduced lunch statistics and homeless statistics.  Can you think of others we should include?  I'm also thinking under School Safety there should be a place to put information about  total number of referrals along with maybe the disaggregation of that data.  Share what you think is missing off this School Data Profile Sheet and I will work on creating one more appropriate for elementary.  Let me hear how your demographics round-up went for you by posting on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page.

Tomorrow is Day 3 and we are gathering information on School Improvement goals.  This may not sound like "data" to you, but when you start looking at developing a comprehensive school counseling program, including your school improvement goals, your data, and student competencies will help to more effectively drive the planning needs of your program.

All the best to each one of you as you continue to round-up these data pieces.  Hopefully your pursuit of these items will generate some healthy conversations about what School Counselors can and should be doing!

If you are not familiar with the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge and are interested in learning more, it's not too late to join us.  Check out all the details HERE.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 1 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

Day 1 is here!  The next 21 days is about getting into the data at your school.  Sometimes it can seem overwhelming and difficult to know where to start. At least that's how I felt, so I figured break it down and do one small task at a time. I can do that!  You can do that  too right? Remember we are doing it together! If you are interested in learning more about 21 Day Daily Data Challenge check out all the details HERE.

So proud!  My data notebook!
So today was about organization.  I chose my binder cover, added my school name, printed it on card stock and slid it in the front of my 3 ring binder.  I had 2 sets of tabs, because I thought of other data that is relevant to my school.  I decided I want to have a place for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade standardized test scores, the results of our 2nd graders standardized achievement test, the Stanford 10, and their gifted screener, the Naglieri 2.  Then I thought about my annual cyberbully/bully survey and that came to 6 more tabs.  I may not end up needing all of these, but as long as I am collecting data, I might as well get it all in one place.

What does your data binder look like?  How willyou organize your data?  What tabs did you include?
Please be sure to share pictures and details on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page.

Ok, preview for tomorrow.  Days 2-9 starts our data round-up.  Day 2 specifically has to do with collecting the demographics for your school.  Use the ASCA Data Profile form to create your school's data profile.  I think this form will be a big help!  Of course some of the categories will not apply to elementary schools, but that's ok, most of them will.

Alright get ready, get set . . . go gather your data!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Kick-off to the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge!

I'm excited!  Tomorrow is Day 1 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge. If you don't know what I'm talking about you can check it out HERE.  I hope you have made a decision to join us as we dive into the data each day.  What better way to learn about the specific data based needs of your school?  What better way to say to your administrator look what the data shows about this issue in our school?  What better way to present yourself as the trained professional with a plan to address that data related issue?  Our effective use of data is the best way to show how students are different because of what School Counselors do!

Day 1 is simple.  It's all about organization.  How are you going to organize the paper you will inevitably collect as you go about gathering your data? Maybe you will use a  3 ring notebook or other paper filing system. Maybe you are tech savvy and will scan it all into electronic files.  I am the "Queen of Too Much Paper," so before I start bringing a lot of more paper into my office I need a way to manage it. I'll be using an extra 3 ring binder, I've got a couple of packages of tabs for separating the data and one of these, 5 decorative binder covers  just to keep it organized and fun.  If you don't have what you need in your office, there is still time to head to Wal-Mart, Office Depot, the Dollar Store or wherever you get your school and office supplies so you can be ready for Day 1 of the Daily Data Challenge.

 Join me each day as I share my experiences with the Daily Data Challenge here on this blog and on my Exploring School Counseling Facebook page.  I'm hoping to get some conversations going about your experiences and challenges too.  Together we can support and encourage each other. Together we can do this!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

21 Day Daily Data Challenge


(Part 4 of a 4 part series)
After my trip to Kentucky, to the Evidence-Based School Counseling Conference, I couldn't wait to create my miracle! However, implementing ALL I had learned back at my school was going to be a different story.  You know, real life meets good intentions?   As exciting as it all was, I was on information overload and wasn't sure where to start.  Over the next couple of days as I began to process my conference experiences I knew I needed to get into the data for my school.  As with any big job, especially if it is new, it can seem totally overwhelming. The secret to success, I have found, is to make a plan, start small, and put it out there for your friends and colleagues to hold you accountable.  Because I know myself, and some of you may be the same way, if I don't make a plan and share it with everyone I will probably not see it through to the finish.  So here it is. My plan to start practicing and implementing some of the great things I learned at the EBSC conference.  I have created the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge. I hope you will consider joining me on this adventure!

What is the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge?
It's simple really. My idea is to do one small task each day to get into my data.  That seems manageable to me, when I consider all my other School Counselor duties, and my desire to have a personal life. The challenges are divided into sections, Day 1 is about organization, Days 2-9 are the data round-up.  Days 10-15 are the data mining. Days 15-19 are problem identification and response. Days 20 and 21 are evaluate and share.  I have also included some helpful forms I got from our faithful ASCA website which I think will make the various tasks of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge easier.  The folder of forms is HERE or you can look for them posted on my daily data update along with the next day's challenge.

The Daily Data Update
Each evening I will post  the challenge for the following day on this blog.  For example, on Sunday evening I will post the Day 1 challenge for Monday.  On Monday I will share my experience in meeting the Day 1 challenge and issue the challenge for Day 2 and so on for the remaining 19 school days. But, if you want to look ahead and see what the challenges are for each day, you will find the list of challenges HERE.  You can also subscribe to this blog (on the right) to receive email notifications when I've posted each day's challenge and my results.  

There are as many excuses for not getting in your data as there are School Counselors like...
"I've got too much to do, there's no time for this."
"I have more important student issues to deal with right now,"
"This is a waste of time, nothing is going to change."
"My administrator is never going to let me out of this duty anyway."
  "This is just really a bad time for me."
"I don't know much about data and I'm really not sure what to do."

We must remember how important it is for all of us to show the value of having School Counselors in every school. The use of data is the only way to get the legislators, administrators, and taxpayers to know and understand  how students are different because of what School Counselors do!  We owe it to ourselves, our schools our students and our profession to show how we make a difference!

WHY participate?
So why should you participate in the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge? Let's see, it will strengthen your program by identifying goals for your school and showing the value of your services as a School Counselor. If you are part of this wonderful profession, you have heard or know first hand about School Counselors who act as glorified, highly paid bus, recess, hall, and cafeteria monitors, test coordinators and registrars.  The collective cry of School Counselors who just want to do the job they were trained to do is loud and clear. And so is the solution.  Dr.Trish Hatch said it best at my state conference in October,

"Principals don't know what we do or what they can count on from us, so they assign us the tasks that need to be done, that may have nothing to  do with school counseling." 

So we must show them! Each and everyone of us must show the impact our classroom, small group and individual counseling skills have on the social/emotional, academic and career success of our students. Our tender-hearted anecdotes are not enough.  We must use data!  I know this whole thing with data is relatively new and unfamiliar to me, but I'm learning.  I figure if I publicly challenge myself and invite you all along, I'll not just be creating a miracle for my school, but encouraging other School Counselors to create miracles for their school counseling programs as well.

I Challenge YOU!
So who is with me?  Are you ready to create a miracle for what is left of this school year and set the stage for more miracles for next year?  Kick your excuses to the curb and make a commitment to join me in the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge.  I will be right here with you. As a matter of fact we can do this together.  I have finally set up a Facebook page for the Exploring School Counseling blog. The first posts will be about the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge.  It will be a  place where anyone who is interested in taking the challenge can chat about the successes and frustrations of each day's activity, share pictures or resources and can encourage and cheer each other on.

I  will leave you with this bit of encouragement I found as I wrestled with my own insecurities about starting this challenge and my ability to finish it successfully.

I'm ready are you?  I hope you will consider accepting the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge and joining me on my journey!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Comprehensive School Counseling Program vs. Random Acts of Guidance

(Part 3 of a 4 part series)

When reading Trish Hatch’s book, The Use of Data in School Counseling, I came across the term “Random Acts of Guidance,” and without reading further I knew exactly what she meant.  I have always thought of it as “hit and run guidance,” but whatever you call it, “Random Acts of Guidance” is a reactive approach that is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining on a School Counselor.  Hatch uses this term to describe the approach taken by School Counselors to handling their busy and often chaotic school day. She says School Counselors feel like “their days happen to them; they don’t happen to their days.”

And if you are a practicing School Counselor you know EXACTLY what she means.  Many days it starts the minute you walk in the doors of your school.  Teachers, parents, administrators, and students are all clamoring for a piece of you to address some real or imagined emergency.  There are the drop-ins and the drama, the requests for your presence at a conference or meeting to handle a “sensitive” student/parent issue, or to offer consolation and counseling to distressed students, parents, or faculty.  There are the urgent random requests to teach a class on body odor, honesty, friendship, or stealing. Maybe it is the plethora of non-counseling duties  you are assigned that cause you to desperately try to do a little School Counseling between lunch duty, testing duty, and clerical duty.  These types of days, happening with increasing frequency, can leave School Counselors feeling frustrated and burned-out. You may feel a lack administrative support or your school is too big or has too many issues to address them all.  You know if you were able to provide proactive, preventative programming and lessons many of these problems would be addressed.  But how?  You know the answer.  Data.

The Flashlight Approach
The way School Counselors begin to show the value of their programs and the significant impact they can make on student achievement is by using the Flashlight Approach.  School Counselors performing random acts of guidance may feel intimidated by the data, or feel it is not possible to do or they do not have the support needed to implement this approach.   Take courage and find one thing you already do and measure it well.  The data generated is the start of showing how students are different because of what School Counselors do.  Share your success.  This is what administrators need to see.  For more details read “The Flashlight Approach,” the second of posts in this series.

The Comprehensive School Counseling Program
So you’ve used the Flashlight approach and you’re ready to take the next step.  Aligning your school counseling program with the ASCA National Model is that next step.  The goal of the ASCA National Model is to do more school counseling and take things off your plate.  It provides a framework for building a comprehensive, data driven CSCP that can improve student achievement.  It is comprehensive, preventative, and developmentally appropriate, teaching knowledge, attitudes, and skills to all students at each grade level.  The CSCP should be an integral part of the school academic mission statement, driven by ASCA, state, and district standards as appropriate and providing equitable access to all students.  It should promote learning for ALL and of course be DATA driven.  School Counselors delivering a CSCP should be state credentialed School Counselors and collaborators with parents and other educators for promoting an environment of student achievement.  School Counselors delivering a CSCP should spent 80% of their time in direct and indirect services to students.  A CSCP is intentional, targeting underperforming or under-represented students and promoting systems change when appropriate. 

EVERY student gets EVERY thing
The ASCA National Model recommends choosing your guidance curriculum by first reviewing the standards, the developmental needs of the students, and analyzing school wide data.  Look for real data driven needs related to attendance, behavior, and achievement, not perceived needs.  For example, rather than asking teachers what they think students need for classroom lessons, ask teachers which of the following data identified needs they feel is the most urgent.  The guidance curriculum you create to meet these needs will be received by EVERY student at your school.  Collecting data to demonstrate the effectiveness of these lessons is important, but Hatch tells us there is no time to measure every lesson.  She recommends selecting a few lessons to measure the effectiveness to inform your future practice.  Then share your success with everyone.

Intentional Guidance – Some kids need more.
The ASCA National Model includes the concept of intentionality.  Although we guarantee EVERY student gets EVERY thing, we sometimes find there are students who need more.  By looking at the data, School Counselors can see which students are in need of what services.  The data may indicate a need for a small group, or maybe a tutoring referral, individual counseling, or a community referral.  The idea of intentionality is to recognize the discrepancies and meet the needs of the student. To best provide interventions of intentional guidance, School Counselors need to decide what data will be used for identifying students who need more, what data will be used to determine their success, and when these interventions will be provided.
When looking at intentional guidance, and choosing who needs assistance, School Counselors need to consider whether this is a student need or a systems need.  Can this be addressed by a small group or school wide intervention or is an intervention needed to address specific policies, programs, or practices?

The ASCA National Model
This is just an overview of what is involved in developing your CSCP.  I have touched briefly on some of the content of the 4 components of Foundation, Delivery, Management, and Accountability discussed in the ASCA National Model.  It is important for each School Counselor to take the time and begin to examine the components of your own program to determine where you are in the process of providing a CSCP for your students.  Spend some time reading and studying the ASCA Executive Summary for information on what your school counseling program may be missing. 

I know personally I thought I had this CSCP thing down.  But, in reflecting on my school counseling program, I have done too many lessons just because I liked them, or thought they were cute, or comfortable, or requested, or were just a little “holiday” fun.  I never looked or stopped to consider if there was data to support the lesson.  Because of this I realize I have missed opportunities to teach the kind of lessons that can only be provided by a School Counselor.  The kind that teach students real life attitudes, knowledge, and skills that can impact their achievement, academics and personal/social success.  Now after my trip to the Evidence-based School Counseling Conference, my study of the National Model, and reading Hatch’s book, I am keenly aware of my own program weakness.  There is much I need to do to create a CSCP and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed, but motivated.  I am ready to create a miracle.  It will be small but it will be a start.  Between now and the last 7 weeks of school, I am going to take Dr. Hatch’s advice and use the Flashlight Approach. I have already chosen one thing I am doing and I will measure it well.  My challenge to you is, will you join me?  Let’s make lots of little miracles all across School Counseling!

Next time, The 21 Day Daily Data Challenge.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Evidence-Based School Counseling and The Flashlight Approach

Part 2 of a 4 part series

“Don’t wait for a miracle! The time is now! Go create one!” Dr.Trish Hatch, EBSC conference 2015

After attending Trish Hatch’s inspiring keynote and nearly a dozen sessions about all aspects of data and how other schools were using data to show the value of School Counselors (and actually adding counselors to their districts) I couldn't wait to get started.  Using data to drive and evaluate my program had seemed like such an insurmountable task, I had no idea how or where to start.  But now, I felt empowered to begin. I had a tool. The flashlight approach.  It is quick and simple and can generate real results quickly.  So, I am creating my own miracle as Dr. Hatch suggested.

The Flashlight Approach: Measuring one thing WELL!
The idea behind evidence-based school counseling is to build an entire comprehensive school counseling program totally driven by data.  But that can take a few years and Trish Hatch knows that. She wants School Counselors to start NOW! 

Gathering and analyzing the data from all the sources a School Counselor has available can be daunting and overwhelming.  Thus, the idea of starting small and focused like the beam of a flashlight. A flashlight does not light up a whole room.  It shines its beam of light in one area, on a specific target, chosen by the person holding the flashlight. So it should be for School Counselors as we begin to use data to direct our programs.  We don't need to measure everything we do.  Hatch says, “Choose ONE thing and measure it well.”

Maybe you will choose to shine your flashlight on something you already do, or maybe a program or idea you've been wanting to try.  Whether tried and true or something new, a curriculum lesson plan or a small group, shine your flashlight on it.  Use the flashlight approach to help you measure your effectiveness and show the impact of the intervention you have implemented. This is your evidence to show how you make a difference, how students are different because of what you do.  

Using the ASCA National Model Action Plan as a guide
The flashlight approach helps School Counselors show immediate results using the ASCA National Model Action Plan.  In her book, The Use of Data in School Counseling, Dr. Hatch suggests following your counseling activity all the way through using these steps and ASCA's action plan samples.

Identify the problem:  Use available data. Maybe you've noticed an increase in referrals in the quarterly discipline reports.  Upon disaggregating the data you find a number of 3rd grade boys with 3 or more referrals and a large number of bullying complaints involving 5th graders.  You may decide to do a small group with students with 3 or more referrals. Or maybe you've been doing a bully lesson for a year or two and you would like to measure its true effectiveness with  your 5th graders.
Set a goal: For example, decrease discipline referrals by 10% or decrease 5th grade discipline referrals for bullying by 20%  or  increase student awareness of upstander strategies by 20%.
Identify your standard(s): Refer to the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors
Choose Curriculum and materials
Implement the Lesson(s): Collect pre-test/survey data, conduct your lesson(s), collect post-test/survey data
Collect Process Data:  What you did for whom, for example: 8 third grade boys, 5 sessions, 30 minutes each or 2 classroom lessons on upstander strategies for 48 5th graders for 45 minutes each.
Analyze Perception Data: Review and analyze student attitudes, knowledge, and skills before and at the conclusion of your group sessions or class lessons using pre/post-test data. For example: pre-20% of group members knew 3 or more calm down strategies, post-95% know 3 or more calm down strategies. Or pre- 35 % knew 2 or more strategies for being an upstander, post- 85 % knew 2 or more strategies for being an upstander. But maybe your Upstander Strategies lesson didn't show a positive data change. That’s important data too.  Is it time to re-work the lesson?  Find a new lesson?  We don’t want to waste our time doing lessons, even though we may enjoy them, if they are not benefitting our students.
Review Outcome Data: For example: reports of bullying have decreased from 72% to 40%, discipline referrals are down from 50% to 35%
Implications:  Review all your data and procedures, reflect on lessons for the future. ASCA even has a results report if you are interested.
Share:  Make your results known to EVERYONE!  It doesn't have to be formal, it could be you get 5 minutes in the hall or the cafeteria with your principal.  Put it in a memo, the school newsletter, faculty email,  maybe you get 2-3 minutes at  faculty meeting, or a chance to share informally at grade level PLC meetings. Let your administration, faculty, and staff know of your success!  And course be sure to share, celebrate, and encourage your School Counselor colleagues who may be watching how this works out for you.

Feel empowered yet?  Still think you can’t use data to drive your program and show the value of what you do?  The flashlight approach is an easy and simple way to put you on the path to building your data stamina and confidence. Our goal as practicing Professional School Counselors should focus on building a comprehensive school counseling program that is totally data driven.  A program that allows us to provide services to all and intentional programs to close the achievement gap and meet the social/emotional, academic, and career needs of every student.  A program where clerical and pseudo administrative duties are taboo.  A program where our skills and services are valued and no longer in danger of being reduced or eliminated.

I know what some of you are thinking.  This will never work with my principal, or I’m in 2, 3, or 4 schools how can I do this?  Or, they’re never going to let me out of ____________ (bus duty, cafeteria duty, testing coordinator, etc.) not ever!

Have courage.  Begin small.  Take the “flashlight” and shine it on ONE thing, just ONE thing you do.  Show its value. Share. Repeat. Repeat and repeat until you find the support you need to give your school the type of comprehensive school counseling program all students deserve.  A program that is a reflection of the unique needs of your student population, one that allows you to practice your skills as a Professional School Counselor. Just as there are hundreds of things we do and lives we touch that can NEVER be measured with data, there are hundreds of things we do that can be measured. We see the value in all those things each day.  This is a way to help others see that value too.

Next time, The Comprehensive School Counseling Program vs. Random Acts of Guidance