Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Working with Students Who Have Been Retained

If you work in schools, you know what the research states about retention. In short, retention doesn’t work. Students are not necessarily provided with remedial instruction to address their academic weakness and often suffer social stigmatization as a result. For more information be sure to check out the NASP website or this statement.

Unfortunately, when students get to high school there is a particular distribution of credits students need to meet in order to graduate. If students fail a required class they have to retake it in order to earn that credit. Schools also have requirements for each grade and the number of credits required to be a sophomore, junior, and senior. At my internship site students need a total of five (5) credits to be considered sophomores, ten (10) to be a junior, sixteen (16) to be a senior, and twenty-three (23) to graduate. If students do not meet these credit requirements that will remain at their present grade level until they do. Students fail to earn credit (part or whole) due to failure of a course or loss of credit for absences/tardies.

Over the past twelve weeks and eight sessions I have worked with a group of female students as a co-facilitator of a group. These students were retained this academic year for failure to earn enough credits during the 2011-2012 year. The main purpose of the group was to help them earn enough credits by the end of Semester 1 in order to be considered sophomores in terms of credits. Secondary to that goal was to increase their skills in terms of study habits, goal setting, relationships with teachers, and overall attitude towards school. Students were also provided with weekly progress reports in an effort to hold them accountable for their academic performance, as many reported they had no support systems.

In an effort to be my best data-based decision-maker self, I distributed a pre-/post-group behavior survey (I adapted p. 4 of this document) for teachers to complete. Self-reports of behavior and weekly progress monitoring based on areas of concern/goals were also important for data collection purposes. I am still tabulating this data and waiting for teachers to return the post-group surveys. Once I have this data I will post about how effective the group was found to be.

In a more qualitative sense, each participant that completed the group (yes, we lost a few along the way) was promoted to sophomore status in terms of credit. These students are still considered freshman in the eyes of administration, but they have accomplished a huge obstacle to be proud of! These students have the potential to move on with the rest of their class for the 2013-2014 school year if they can keep the momentum going. I’ll be checking on them sporadically and assessing their grades at the end of the third marking period to see how they are holding up.

All of the students identified the group as a positive experience and saw a positive change in themselves. While the group could have been more structured in its planning and weekly implementation, it provided a school connection with an adult, which few of the girls already had. Based on the success of this group, and a similar group last year, it is my hope the school will continue to facilitate a group supporting these students.

Now…time to design a group focusing on the male students who have been, and are facing retention!

Until next thyme, 

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