Saturday, May 30, 2015

7 Things "To Do" to Close Out Your School Year

My “get finished with school get started with summer to do list” is longer than my arm and I am not making much progress.  I'm procrastinating and writing this blog post to share some of the things I think are important for any School Counselor who is interested in building a data driven school counseling program to consider as she or he closes out their school year.

1)  Data Scavenger Hunt! 
I don’t know about your school district, but in mine they purge the system during the summer, making it impossible to retrieve data from the recently ended school year. So get out there and locate the data that is already being generated each and every day and is just sitting in your school district’s computer system waiting for you to find it.  This is the BASIC data School Counselors need to get and review BEFORE they begin to form any plans for the new school year.  This is the data that reveals your students’ needs and identifies where you should focus your efforts.  It is data you will use to compare the growth students have made because of the programming you have provided.  So find it!  Organize it! (I like a 3 ring binder) Disaggregate it!  SET GOALS!
Data to look for:
Attendance/tardy Reports
Reports listing students with D’s and F’s on their report cards
Reports listing students with poor conduct grades
Drop-out prevention/ at risk student listing, my district calls it the Early Warning System
School Climate Surveys
Discipline Referral Reports
Suspension Reports

Here are some editable colorful binder covers for your Data Notebook if you are interested in creating a one stop spot for all your data.

2)  Create a Curriculum Calendar
A curriculum calendar is a great tool to validate the importance of the School Counselor's role in providing services to ALL students to the administration and faculty of your school.  In her book The Use of Data in School Counseling, Trish Hatch says a well planned and filled out calendar supports and protects the School Counselor's time. "An open calendar lends itself to being filled with non-counseling responsibilities as it may appear there is nothing more valuable scheduled."

Based on the data you have analyzed, you now know the type of lessons needed school wide in your classroom counseling curriculum.  Some lessons will be specifically indicated by the data. Others will be presented because it is determined these are skills all students should know.  Create a calendar that shows core counseling lesson themes by grade level, ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors, curriculum, number of students to be served, and expected delivery dates.  Be sure to use the column on the right side of the form below to list yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly events in which you are involved or responsible.  With this kind of planning Administration can see how data needs are being addressed by the School Counselor. Click HERE for a sample of my personal core counseling curriculum plan and HERE for a blank template.

3)  Be a Part of Planning Your School's Yearly Calendar
Don't wait until the start of the new school year to get your programming on your school's yearly calendar. It may too late by then.  Use your counseling core curriculum calendar and add your special events to your school’s year long calendar for the 2015-2016 school year now.  In addition to including special weeks, days, or activities you provide, sponsor, or participate in like Red Ribbon Week, Career Week, Holiday Food and Toy Drive, club meetings, Parent Nights, and puberty education, be sure to include your professional obligations.  It is important for PLC and district meetings, professional workshops and conferences, and School Leadership meetings to be noted on the calendar.

Annual planning helps you, and your administration, to see potential conflicts and gets your programs on the calendar early. This not only helps to avoid conflicts, but it gives you the luxury of planning your events when and where you want without having to settle, or make do, with left over dates and campus facilities.  Perhaps it will even give your administrator a chance to think about all you have planned for the coming school year. And maybe, over the summer, as they create duty schedules and consider non-counseling related activities, they will begin to understand the important work you do with students.

4)  Survey your teachers
This is not about what teachers think you should be teaching or doing, but a chance to get feed-back on the services you have offered this school year.  It’s about perceptions and it takes a thick skin to ask teachers what they think of your services, but sometimes that is an important reality check for some of us. It was for me last year and really helped me to be aware of some areas where I needed to step up my game. It even provided data on how well my faculty understood my job and where they needed more assistance from me in things like Problem Solving Team, 504 plans and reporting to Child Services.

 Here is a link to the Google form I created to survey my teachers last year.  If you would like to use my form, please remember to first make a copy and rename the form before using it or making any additions or deletions.  Otherwise your data will be co-mingled with mine and that will not help either of us.  For instructions on copying and renaming a form go HERE and scroll to slides 30 and 31.

5)  Establish an Annual Agreement
The ASCA website has a great template that lets has you establish the goals for your school counseling program and put them in a form, the Annual Agreement. This form is best completed after reviewing the data you’ve collected and is not only useful for showing your Administration the needs of the school as indicated by the data, but how you plan to spend your time to meet those needs. What a great proactive way to tie data and program needs to your skills as a School Counselor. For a copy of the Annual Agreement go HERE.

6)  Order supplies, books, or materials for next year
Now that you have set goals based on your data, it is easier to know what you are going to be teaching in classroom counseling and small groups.  Take inventory of your materials and decide what  you will need to successfully implement the program you have planned for your students.  Need new resources for teaching study skills, determining learning styles, or teaching conflict resolution skills?  Now is the time to get what you need and have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with your new resources.

7)  Stop procrastinating!
Clean up your office, file that mountain of papers, and go start some serious self care!  Enjoy your summer!  Do the things you love with the people you love.  Get some rest and renew you mind and spirit.  You deserve it!

Well that's it.  I've done the data scavenger hunt, created my curriculum calendar, and surveyed my teachers.  Next week when the students are gone I will be able order my materials and sit down with my Principal to work on our Annual Agreement and the School's Yearly Calendar.  And maybe, just maybe I will file the mountain of papers on my desk before I leave.

What's on your "to do" list?  I hope my list helps focus your ideas on how to begin to build a data-driven school counseling program in your school.

Have a wonderful SUMMER!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Day 21 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

DAY 21!!!  Woo hoo!  We made it!  I have to say it hasn't been easy, but the accountability of posting my data journey each day has kept me going.  Today is about sharing your outcome.  What did you measure and what does your data show in terms of student growth or improvement?  Maybe you increased study skills or student attendance or decreased discipline referrals or student tardies.  Whatever you measured, whatever you did, NOW is the time to create a flashlight package and shine the light on what you have accomplished.  NOW is the time to get out there and BRAG, yes BRAG, about the effectiveness of your School Counseling program!  NOW is the time to politely let your administration know how students are different because of what you as a School Counselor have done.  Tell your administration, and faculty, if you have the chance, "Look at the improvement our students made in this area in which I did this program.  Just think of how I can impact these other areas (name them off because you know your data) with more of my time focused on School Counseling related duties."  And that's how the miracle begins!

The Flashlight Package
The flashlight package is the way you share your program results to demonstrate the success of your efforts. But how do you present the flashlight package and what should it look like?  In chapter 11 of her book, The Use of Data in School Counseling, Trish Hatch gives us an outline.  She suggests creating a PowerPoint presentation no longer that 10 minutes containing the information listed below.  

1) Name of presentation, school, and School Counselor
2) ASCA standards addressed
3) Identified need and lesson/intervention to address it
4) Relevant research
5) Process data, the who, what, when, and how of this activity  (if intentional guidance specify target and selection criteria)
6) Sample graphs of pre/post test data (perception data)
7) Show how achievement related data are linked to perception data and the targeted achievement indicator
8) Graphs of Achievement data related to the activity
9) Summarize main points of lesson
10) Next steps or improvement planned
11) Thank you slide to acknowledge contributions of teachers and staff who support the School Counselor

As I stated in previous posts, I am behind on my 21 Day Daily Data Challenge because I decided to measure my work with a group of students I am already seeing.  Because of this, my "flashlight package" is not ready to share.  However, when I complete my group in 2 weeks, I will post my experiences with Day 20 and 21.  

What I've Learned
The 21 Day Daily Data Challenge has been a significant growth experience for me.  I have learned about my personal strengths and weaknesses in analyzing data.  I have also learned much more about my school than I ever imagined.  By uncovering details revealed in the data,  I now  have clear goals to address previously unknown needs at my school.  I am forever grateful to Dr. Trish Hatch whose inspirational keynote speeches and her book, The Use of Data in School Counseling, have propelled me along this path. I have learned much but have also come to realize how much more there is to learn.  I was unconsciously unskilled. I am now consciously unskilled and working hard to build my skills so I can reach the level of consciously skilled.  I think unconsciously skilled is quite a distance in my future, but it is something to which I aspire.

If you would like to learn more about the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge you can read about it HERE and follow my journey each day.  If you have been participating and have comments or results to share I would really LOVE to see them. Please share them on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page.

Review this Challenge
Please do me a huge favor and share your comments below regarding the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge.  I would love to  know how I can improve this challenge.  I am also curious to hear about your experiences!  Did you start, get part of the way through, run into difficulty of just give out of energy?  Was the data hard to get?  Did you lack the skills to analyze it effectively? Were you unable to make sense of it all?  Was the challenge too long?  Would fewer days have been better?  If you started then stopped please share what happened.  If wanted to start but didn't, what got in your way?  What would have made this challenge doable for you? 

My goal in issuing this challenge was threefold.  First, to force myself to get in the data and take a really close look at the needs of my school.  Secondly, to help others who may not have had data training in their Master's program (like me!) to get involved with what is currently happening in our profession.  And third, to encourage my School  Counselor colleagues, who are doing a lot of non-counselor duties, to begin to take the steps needed to show, with data, the difference School Counselors can make.

We must become data driven to prove the effectiveness of our school counseling programs and the value we offer our schools in terms of services to students.  Like it or not, the data is what validates everything we say and do.  It is the bottom line for which every legislator, administrator, and taxpayer is looking.  So show them!  Show them how students are different because of what School Counselors do!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Day 20 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

Today is the day we evaluate our program. It's time to review, reflect, and revise.  Take the time to honestly assess how you feel your class or group responded to your lesson.  What went well?  What didn't?  What would you do differently if you were to do this program again?  Were you able to communicate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes you wanted your students to learn? Were the curriculum, lesson, or activity as effective as you thought they would be?  Did your lesson reflect the competencies you had chosen for your students?  How were your pre/ post test surveys? Did the students understand the questions?  Did your questions reflect the content of your lesson well? Were there problems with wording you would change for next time or was your pre/post test just right?  What about the data?  Are you able to show improvement? An increase or decrease?  Did you measure what you thought you  measured? So much to think about in order to  evaluate our efforts to create the best possible school counseling program for our students.

A day late...
Today was the day I actually began the implementation of my action plan. It did not go as smoothly as I hoped, actually it almost didn't happen at all. It seemed as if every negative force in the universe was bearing down on my school today and conspiring to keep me from doing my group.  But, those boys. Those hard to handle, kind of prickly, sometimes annoying boys from my group were waiting for me on the steps of my portable when I finally arrived 15 minutes late.  They were not bothered by my lateness but were eager to get started.  They took right to the Zones of Regulation lesson and I feel that although we were late getting started they were hooked from the beginning.  They were familiar with the color coded behavior systems from their classrooms and immediately tried to equate the colors with good vs. bad behavior.  The seemed genuinely intrigued by the idea that different feelings went in different zones and loved the game where they matched the feelings to the zone.

I know I said 3 lessons, but I must have been out of my mind!   Zones of Regulations is such an awesome comprehensive program there is no way to do that.  Since we only have 2 1/2 weeks of school left I am going to see if their teachers will let them come more often and see just how far we can go.

DAY 21
Wow! It's almost here! I can't believe I have been living and breathing data for the last 20 days!  Day 21 is about sharing your outcome.  Trish Hatch talks about the flashlight approach and gives us a structure for creating a PowerPoint to share our results.  But she also reminds us to share it wherever and with whomever we can.  Sometimes we don't get to present to our faculty, we get 5 minutes with the Prinicpal during cafeteria duty.  Getting our results out there and showing how students are different because of what School Counselors do is our goal.  Results that show how valuable School Counselors can be when they are given the time and opportunity to do what School Counselors do best is what it's all about!

If want to know more about the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge, you can read about it HERE.  Please check out the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page and share your data experiences there.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Day 19 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

Today was the day to implement your intervention! I hope many of you have been able to stay with the schedule and reach the implementation point with me.  Unfortunately, I am now off a day because I am using a group I have already been seeing and they meet on Friday's.  So tomorrow I will be implementing my action plan. And, because my group is going to last for 3 sessions, my Days 20 and 21 will not be sequential with the daily challenges.  But that was something I anticipated and I will continue to share my progress in the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge.

DAY 20
So if you are on track with the Daily Data Challenges and implemented your action plan today, tomorrow is the day you will review your data, reflect on your action plan, and make any revisions necessary to improve your plan for the future.  You will be able to see and say how students are different because of what School Counselors do!

If you are interested in learning more about the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge you can read about it HERE.  Please share your data adventures on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page or just stop by and like the page and check out what's happening there.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Day 18 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

As the day gets closer to implementing my data-driven intervention, I get more excited!  I can't wait to see how my students respond!

If you are participating in the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge, it is time to make your preparations to implement your action plan. Begin by setting your start date, sending home permission slips if needed (here is a sample of the one I use) and giving your pre-test. In my district I only have to send a permission home for small group sessions. And since I am going to measure something I am already doing, (small group for behavior) as Trish Hatch suggested, that part is covered. What I am missing is the pre-test.  Due to scheduling conflicts both today and tomorrow, I will not  be able to give the pre-test until the beginning of  our group on Friday.

DAY 19
Implementation day for your action plan!  Get ready!

Read more about the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge HERE and follow Exploring School Counseling on Facebook to share your data experiences.

Thoughts to Share
I keep wondering, will the data I collect from this intervention show an impact?  If it does,will I be able to duplicate my success?  But, what if my intervention does not indicate success?  What if the students make no gains in their attitudes, skills, and knowledge? What if the whole intervention is a disaster?  To be honest, I will definitely be disappointed, but I truly think I will be okay with that outcome as well.  I have always told my own children, especially in their teen and college years, you learn just as much from your mistakes and what doesn't work as you do from your successes.  If you don't give up and have a pity party, or get embarrassed because things didn't go as you had hoped or expected, doesn't that provide just as much information?  Isn't knowing what doesn't work and what not to do just as valuable?  

As a School Counselor, for too many years, I have operated on what was cute and convenient and not really looked at what would provide the greatest impact to my students.  I am truly excited to see the results of my data-driven action plan. One way or another, whatever the results, I will have a better idea about what is most beneficial to my students.  And really, I think that's all any School Counselor wants.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Day 17 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

If you've been following along on the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge you've gathered, analyzed, and disaggregated your school data, chosen a goal and now you are ready to write your action plan.  I feel like such a data geek!  As I was sharing with my School Psychologist today about all that I had done I was positively giddy!  I know, giddy about data.  You're thinking, "That woman needs summer vacation, and soon!  She has lost her mind!"  But I'm telling you, when you start looking at all your data pieces and you see how all those data pieces begin to fit together, and how they impact each other, it is truly an exciting thing!

The Action Plan
I am going to utilize the ASCA form for a small group action plan.
As I stated yesterday, I will be using the behavior groups I already have in place.  With this action plan I will be using the ASCA  Mindset: Self confidence and the ability to succeed and the Behaviors: Demonstrate self-discipline and self-control and Demonstrate effective coping skills when faced with a problem. The outline of sessions will be distilled from the book Zones of Regulation. My process data identifies 9 boys from 3rd-5th grade.  Multiple choice surveys will be taken prior to the first group session and at the final session for the collecting of pre/post test data to measure perception data. Our outcome data will be seen at the end of the school year when we review our 4th quarter discipline referrals and student weekly classroom behavior reports.  This group will begin on Friday and will meet for a total of 3 sessions.

In order to start this group on Friday, I need to finish organizing my group lessons and think about the questions for my pre/post test. Permission slips are in place and students need to be prepared for the new focus in group for our remaining sessions.  I really am excited to see how this goes and am looking forward to sharing all that happens, good or bad.  We have a saying at our house, "All learning is valuable."  So even if I totally bomb this, I will share and reflect and maybe someone else will learn from my mistakes as well.

Day 18
This is the day to choose your start date, send permissions and do your pre-test.  Get ready!  It's almost time to start!

If you would like to know more about the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge please read more about it HERE.  You can also follow Exploring School Counseling on Facebook and share your own comments and experiences.

We're nearing the end of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge.  I hope you have been enlightened by what you have learned.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Day 16 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

It's Day 16 and it is supposed to be my "2 for 1 day."  The day I meet with my principal and assistant principal to share what I have learned about our school's data from Day 15.  It is also the day I choose a goal.

So it's here.  No meeting.  Well okay, I had a meeting, but my administrator was so busy trying to tie up loose ends from a day of teacher final evaluations that I knew this really was not the best time. I decided when you do not have 100% attention from anyone with whom you wish to share your thoughts and ideas, and yet you try to share them anyway, I think you de-value what you have to say. If you continue to try to share when someone is obviously trying to multi-task, I think it communicates that what you have to say is not important enough; that it does not require the full attention of your listener.  With that personal reflection, I gracefully departed saying something about how much work they had to do and how I could wait until a better time.  So, I requested a time to meet when the deadline to finish evaluations was not looming. The answer I got shows interest, but not much promise.  I will go with it for now.

Sharing and Goals
The thing is, I am really fortunate that I have an administration that trusts me and has faith in what I plan and do.  At this point as excited as I am about the possibilities, I feel a certain satisfaction just from sharing these ideas here with all of you.   So here are some of the things I plan to share with my administration as soon as I get an opportunity.  These are my a few of my ideas for next year.
1) Create and implement a School Counseling Advisory Council
2) Address the numerous D's and F's with: teacher surveys for specific areas of concern, small group  and possibly classroom instruction, student contracts, student time analysis, and parent/teacher conferences/contracts
3) Parent Night to address student study habits and use of time
4) Parent Night to address Positive Behavior Matrix, what it means and how it can be used a home
5) Continue to address ODR (office discipline referrals each quarter) with small group counseling and improved self-monitoring of individuals and some sort of weekly electronic check in  with parents and teachers.

 But what about now, for the end of this school year?  What is my goal?  The question Trish Hatch asked her audience both times I heard her speak was, "What are you already doing in your program that you can possibly use to meet the identified problem?" and   "What do you need to put in place?" My answer to what am I already doing are my behavior groups.  I have 3 groups I run for students who have received 4 or more referrals to the office.  The second question is, "What do I need to put in place?"  I need a specific behavioral curriculum, I have been doing piece meal lessons, and I need
pre and post tests.  I  recently received Zones of Regulation, but have not used it yet.  There may not be a lot I can do with it in 3 weeks, but I would like to see the kind of impact it can have. So, I will use these 3 weeks to survey and introduce some of the basic skills presented in this book.  Success or not, it will be good practice and certainly will inform the creation of my pre and post tests and possibly these groups for the next school year.  Whatever I learn from this last minute goal, will help me as I learn to be a more data driven School Counselor.

Day 17 
Tomorrow's challenge is to create an action plan.  The forms on the ASCA website will be helpful when we are creating our action plans. Look in the left column under RAMP application templates for useful forms.

Be sure to stop by the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page to share your experiences.  If you are not familiar with the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge you can read more about it HERE.

Thanks for stopping by!  I can't wait to get started on my plan!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Day 15 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

I was so excited about today I could hardly sleep last night! This morning I was planning to meet with my Principal and Assistant Principal to discuss the data I had gathered and present them with the goals I am thinking about for next year. But, the end of the year is closing in fast and they were booked with teacher final evaluations all day long. The only time they could squeeze me in was when I had a group. Then, at the end of the day, each had to leave fairly quickly for other appointments.  I was so psyched and ready to share my ideas with my administrators.  It was truly disappointing to realize I would have to wait until Monday to talk about my findings.

Making Lemonade!
Well, just because I didn't get to meet with my administrators and dazzle them with my data findings didn't mean this day had to be a waste.  I figured "stakeholders" are more than my administrators.  I started thinking more about my School Counseling Advisory Council and the who, what, when, where, and how, thanks to my new friend and Counseling Colleague  Dr. Lauren Wynne.  Her personal tutoring, experience, and suggestions for starting an Advisory Council were just what I needed to hear to get me organizing one for my school. So rather than meet with my administrators, I brainstormed a list of possible members, looked at some dates for next year, outlined some ideas Lauren shared with me about meetings, and in the end felt pretty good about the day.

Day 16
Monday will be Day 16 and the challenge is "choose a goal."  This is will be a two for one day  for me as I present my data and discuss my chosen goal with my administrators.  Here's hoping for a great report to share on Monday!

Please feel free to share your 21 Day Daily Data Challenge experiences on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page.  If the idea of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge is interesting to you, please read more about it HERE.  It has been an interesting journey.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Day 14 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

Day 14 and we are talking about Climate Survey data.  I have data from three distinct sources.  These perceptions from my colleagues, students, and parents are both surprising. informative, and surprisingly connected.

Data Overload!
I did not realize how much school climate data I had until I sat down to really look it over.  I had the SAC (School Advisory Council) data completed by students, parents, and staff regarding general areas of school climate.  I had data completed by our faculty concerning the success of the implementation of our PBIS program.  I also had survey data from 3rd, 4th and 5th graders on bullying, cyberbullying, and internet usage.  There was much to analyze and review and at first glance it seemed quite overwhelming.

SAC Data
So I started with the SAC data.  Each of the 35 parent items were rated on a 5 point scale (5 being the best)  with no score  lower than a 3.57 and that on a question about the use of financial resources.  No stand out concerns here.  Next I reviewed faculty SAC data. Using the same 5 point scale, teacher's lowest scores were a 3.48 talking about consistent grading practices.  This is something that could bear watching after my review of the large number of D's and F's received by students on the last quarter's report card. The student ratings on the SAC survey were based on a 3 point scale with 3 being the highest. Our lowest score here was a 2.23 for "My family likes to come to my school." This was surprising given our active PTA and the large number of extremely well-attended family events they offer throughout the year.

The next data to be reviewed was our PBIS/BLT data.  We are a PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Support) school led by our BLT (Behavior Leadership Team).  The BLT surveyed our faculty to assess their perceptions of how well we were all doing with the implementation of our PBIS behavioral expectations, training, and  rewards systems.  The survey data shows we need to work on clearly defining our consequences for problem behaviors, providing booster training for students based on quarterly ODR data (office discipline referrals), training teachers to actively supervise in non classroom settings, and to positively reinforce student behaviors at a ratio of 5 to 1. The data also indicates a need to provide regular feedback to the staff on students with monitored behavior.  Finally, there was a need indicated for regular training opportunities for families to learn positive behavior and parenting strategies.  This survey will provide a great source of information for our BLT as we plan for next year.  For me personally, it has gotten me thinking about how I can better communicate the progress of my Behavior Support Groups to all stakeholders.

Bully/Cyber-bully/Internet Usage Data
I first started collecting the "Bully Survey" data about 8 years ago when I attended a conference about internet safety and cyber-bullying.  Since then this annual survey of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders has grown from how safely students use the internet to how safe they feel on-line and on our school campus.

The data shows my students have a lot of "on-line freedom" and spend a crazy amount of time on-line with social networking and gaming.  This is another thing I need to consider when looking at data of students with D's and F's on their report card; how they spend their time. The data generated by this survey has informed my bully program, my digital safety lessons, and our faculty presentations about student safety.  Clearly students feel safest in the classroom and very unsafe and scared on the playground at recess.  And of course, that ties back into the need to train our teachers in active supervision as indicated on the PBIS survey.  WOW!  It is really awesome to see how this all starts fitting together. I am beginning to formulate goals that tie my survey data with student plans for grades and group monitoring.  So many ideas are swirling in my mind right now! It's really exciting!

Day 15
Tomorrow is  for presenting and discussing  goals with stakeholders.  I am planning to meet with my Principal to share my ideas for next year.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Please share your  data journey on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page.  Or, if you would like to learn more about the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge check it out HERE.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Day 13 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

Today is day 13 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge.  I'll admit it has not been easy getting in the data each day and blogging about it each evening.  Students, parents, and teachers all have intensified needs with only 19 days of school left. My time and attention to all the demands has been very divided.  But then, who am I kidding?  You all know, it's like this most every day. I guess there's just more pressure when you know there are so few days left to get it all sorted before the last bell rings.

Early Warning System Data
Today the challenge was to disaggregate your data that identifies your students at risk. In our district it has been called by many names. The current title is Early Warning System Data which I like better than at risk or drop-out prevention.  The criteria are the same, but I just like the idea or identifying early the students who have risk factors that may negatively impact their academic success.  On my list were 11 names, that's 2% of my student population.  Eight of those names were intermediate grade students. Nine were students who had been retained,  9 were ESE, 7 had attendance issues, 7 had scored a 1 on the state standardized test and all but one had multiple referrals.  As I look at these students it is hard to know where to begin.  It is sad to see students with so many factors already stacked against them.  I  can only imagine how disheartening school and all its demands must be.  The solution to this problem is not one to be shouldered by the School Counselor alone.  A brainstorming session with all stakeholders is needed to generate ideas for more support and assistance to each of these students and their families. This has to be a team effort.

Day 14 is about disaggregating Climate Survey data and boy do I have a lot of that!  I have data from teachers, students and parents regarding our school and bully/cyberbully data from 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.

If you have been following the 21 Day Daily Data  Challenge  and would like to share your experiences, please go to the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page or share in the comment section below.  If you are not familiar with the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge and are interested in learning more, please click HERE.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Day 12 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

We've made it to Day 12 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge. You know, this much gathering and analyzing of data has made me realize, if I am determined to create a data driven school counseling program from this challenge, I should go ahead and pursue RAMP certification. I've got the data, I'm developing goals, I've gotten a commitment from my principal, and I'm now beginning to work through the process.  If you are not familiar with RAMP, check out the ASCA website and find out what it takes for your school counseling program to become a Recognized ASCA Model Program.

Behavior Report Card Data
Now on to Day 12.  Today we are looking at report card data.  In my county that not only means a student's academic grades, but their behavioral grades as well.  We have a behavior rating system with our report cards that asks teachers to rate students on academic skills such as work study skills needed to learn, social skills such as positive interactions with peers and adults, and self control such as demonstrating positive interactions in the school and classroom even in stressful situations.  Students receive a rating of 1, 2, or 3.  Receiving a 1 indicates the student is performing well and there is no problem.  A rating of 2 indicates a student is experiencing some difficulty in this area.  If a student receives a 3, there is evidence of serious behavioral concerns that need to be addressed with interventions.

As I examined the positive interactions data, I found my students were meeting the expectation of 80% across the board. However, 38% of my ESE students were not meeting expectations on academic skills, neither were 32% of my African American students, and 26% of my Hispanic students. I also saw an area of weakness with 29% of my males in grades 1, 3 and 4. Twenty-three percent of students struggling with self-control were 1st graders.

Now that I have some data I have direction. I  think I will survey the teachers in grades 1, 3, and 4 using a Google form to find out which of my students in those grades are struggling with which specific academic skills. The Google form will allow me to sort students by need.  So rather than do a generic study skills/academic skills group, with data from Google forms, I can design something more prescriptive.

Academic Report Card Data
Reviewing report card grades was an eye opener for me.  I did not have the nice graphs I used for disaggregating the Behavioral Report Card data, so I went through page by page.  Looking at names and grades, making note of whether students were ESE or gen ed, I was struck not only by the number of failing grades, but at some of the students whose names I found there. Something more has to be going on when you have students who have passing grades in every subject but one or two.  This will require greater investigation on my part with teachers and with students.  I feel as if I have been missing an important service element to my students and teachers. There is much I can do to help students achieve success. I know I still have data to disaggregate, but I believe the report card is where I will shine my flashlight and focus my goal for this challenge.

The Counselor's Role
 How could I have not examined grades this closely before?  I guess I felt this was the teacher's domain and no place to stick my nose. Besides, I already had enough to do, and some of it not even School Counselor related!  But now I see I was wrong. If we as School Counselors don't get in the data and expose the academic, social, and emotional needs at our schools, that only we can meet, we will continue to be assigned inappropriate roles and duties. Data exposes the needs. School Counselors have to be ready with the solutions to meet those needs. Data driven school counseling is the way to develop a comprehensive school counseling program that fully utilizes the skills of the School Counselor allowing us to meet the needs of all our students.

Lucky 13
Tomorrow is day 13!  We will be disaggregating Early Warning System data (or whatever you call it at your school).  This is the at risk population of students who are over age for their grade, have attendance, academic, or discipline issues, are an ESE or ESOL student, or have a level 1 or 2 on state standardized tests.

Have you been participating in the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge?  If so please share how it is going on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page or below in the comment section.  I would love to hear what is happening with your Data Challenge.  If you are wondering what the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge is all about, you can read more HERE.

Keep disaggregating!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Day 11 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

Day 11 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge and we are more than half way through!  The gathering of the data available in  my school was a fairly easy job compared to the task of disaggregating all of it.  And as we get into some in-depth disaggregation, it is important to remember why we are doing this. This is the foundation for building a data-driven, comprehensive school counseling program.  This is the way we  determine the needs of our schools, deliver specifically designed interventions to meet those needs, and show how students are different because of what School Counselors do.  What better way to show the value of School Counselors and the possibilities of what we can accomplish when some of those "un-Counselor like" duties are eliminated.

Today the focus is on discipline data.  As our BLT (Behavior Leadership Team) reviewed our behavior data from the 3rd quarter, we were pleased to see our numbers were down  from the previous quarter. Upon taking a closer look at the data we found 3 outliers.  These 3 students got 43% of the referrals for the previous quarter and will require special attention. After removing them from the mix our team felt we got a better view of overall student behavior.  The remainder of our students are looking at a single infraction. These may have occurred in a moment of weakness or impulse. My next task will be to look more closely at the referrals per grade level and numbers per offense and think if there is a brief intervention that can be helpful to those students.

Tomorrow is Day 12 and we will  be disaggregating report card data. I will be looking at the D's and F's and our "Behavior Report Card" data which looks at how students are rated on academic skills, social skills, and interpersonal skills.

If you are not familiar with the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge and would like to learn more, you can read about it HERE.  For those participating in the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge, be sure to share your data experiences below or on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page.

Until tomorrow...

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Welcoming Our Newest Students and Their Families

Kindergarten Orientation is a 90 minute program I present each year in May.  Our school prepares a morning for our newest students to visit a "real" Kindergarten classroom while their parents meet with the myself and other school personnel to hear about their job roles and how as parents they can best prepare their child for Kindergarten. It's a relaxed and friendly way to meet our newest students and their families.

The morning starts with my Leadership Club students waiting in the front office to escort parents and our future Kindergartners to the Media Center to sign in and get name tags. As they are walking from our office to the Media Center, the Leadership Club students chat with our young friends helping them to feel comfortable and offer a  "mini-tour" pointing out various buildings on campus along the way.  Upon reaching the Media Center, students are signed-in and given a color coded animal name tag to wear which determines the class they will visit. Parents are provided a folder of materials (in English and Spanish) about our school including school calendar, summer activity suggestions, our PBIS matrix, websites for kids, and  child information sheet, and 3 QR codes.  One QR code will direct them to
my school website, another to the PowerPoint presentation for the morning, and another to my School Counseling brochure with contact information.  Coffee, doughnuts, and juice are available for parents, but it's usually the kids who end up eating them.  Once everyone is signed-in, the Leadership Club students and adult volunteers take our young visitors to their respective classrooms for center activities, story time, craft, and snack. After a special welcome by our Principal and Assistant Principal the adults get down to business.

Parent Presentation
The parent presentation starts with an introduction of myself and my role as the School Counselor. This is a great opportunity to share the correct name for your job title and a brief explanation of what a School Counselor does.  Next I begin introducing the various staff our parents should know like the cafeteria manager who talks about food allergies and the School Nurse who discusses medication and special needs. Our School Social Worker talks about the importance of regular attendance and the PTA president shares all the great things our PTA does and invites parents to support their child and our school by joining.  The front office receptionist stops in to talk about checking-in when visiting on campus,  how to check your child out of school, and calling in when your child is absent.  We also have the Volunteer Coordinator stop by to encourage parents to fill out volunteer forms.  After introducing our staff, I have a PowerPoint presentation I share with parents about some of the details of our school and Kindergarten program. Topics like curriculum, transportation, lunch procedures, dress code, our parent portal and on line grade book, and after school care are some of the things discussed.  To close we have a brief question and answer time, then the students are returned to the Media Center to their parents. The students have had a great morning, are excited about Kindergarten, and some are ready to come back and join us the next day.

The PowerPoint above is specific for my school and county. However, I hope if you are in need of a presentation you will find it helpful to use as a template in designing one specific for your school.

Do you do a Kindergarten Orientation at your school?  What does your program look like?  I am always looking for ideas to make mine better.  Please feel free to share below.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Day 10 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge

Wow!  Day 10 already!  And now that we have all that data collected, and I have great big stack, it's time to start doing some analyzing.  Today we will disaggregate attendance data.  I have been working with my School Social Worker this year on addressing some of our most serious cases.  So I am proud to say as I look at the list of students who have excessive absences, 30 or more, we have been in contact with these families and in all but one case have gotten feedback on the problem and have offered support for their individual situations.

As I am going over my data I am finding a surprising trend among Hispanic males.  They have the most days tardy.  Not all Hispanic students, just the males.  And we're not just talking a dozen or so, but tardies in the 50's and 60's and one with over 100!  Until I began to look at the attendance data in this way, I was unaware of this trend.  This is an issue I need to discuss with our ESOL teacher, the classroom teachers, and parents. Are there barriers to these students getting to school on time?  Do the parents know the correct time for the start of the school day?  So before I can set a goal I need to do some investigating to learn more about why these boys are frequently tardy.  What interesting trends have you found?  Were you able to set an attendance goal for your students?  Be sure to share your results on the Exploring School Counseling Facebook page!

Monday will be Day 11 of the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge.  It will be the day for disaggregating discipline data.  This is data we have reviewed with our BLT each quarter, but I feel there is much more to be learned when we do more than just review the numbers.

If you are interested in learning more about the 21 Day Daily Data Challenge click HERE to read all the details.