Monday, February 18, 2013

Using Data to Create Opportunities for Student Success

Art Courtesy of Danielle Schultz
A Review of the February 5, 2013 #SCCHAT

When School Counselor's get together to talk about data, I get excited! I am a very goal oriented person by nature so moderating this chat was very exciting for me, despite the major technical difficulties that I faced throughout the chat. As I reviewed the transcript created by Danielle Schultz I actually realized how many comments I never saw during the chat, which prompted me to follow up with a blog post to try to cover questions and concerns that were raised, and hopefully continue the discussion.

The following questions shaped the chat:

1. How do you define student academic success?
2. What are the key components of student academic success?
3. What are the perceptions of academically unsuccessful students? How can you create opportunities for success based on their perceptions?
4. What types of data or student reports are available to you as you set academic goals with your students?
5. How can you enhance your school counseling program to promote more student academic success?

As the chat developed many school counselors shared their experiences & thoughts on each question.

Student Academic Success

There are so many ways to define students success, as is referenced in the chat transcript, but one common theme also emerged, student success is individual. One students success may equate to another's lack of progress. Danielle Schultz said it best: "student success=making forward movement."

To fully understand what this means for each of our students we must first know our students, understand their strengths and identify their weaknesses. In essence we need to know and understand the data that relates to each of our students. During the chat, Kelly Johnson shared a great insight for school counselors, "[help] students reach their full potential, one size does not fit all, students need a growth mindset, not a fixed one." The methods we use to find student data differ from school to school and grade level, but the purpose remains the same, to create opportunities for student success each and every day.

As School Counselor's we cannot be afraid of data, we need to embrace it so we can help each of our students create their own personal academic success.

Key Components of Student Aademic Success

In order to create academic success for our students we must first understand the key components of student academic success. Of course, there is no one size fits all answer here, but having an idea of what conditions are needed is essential when attempting to create specific results.

Here are some of the components shared by counselors during the chat:

*support systems like parents*friends*teachers ready to help*resiliency & perseverance*access & resources to be successful*motivation*desire to learn*opportunity* understanding how what is learned relates to the real world*collaborative learning environment*ownership

One of my favorite contributions on this question came from Kelly Johnson, "I realize more and more every single day that relationships are everything."

If you're a practicing School Counselor this comment might sound familiar to you as we are all embracing the Danielson Model. Using our relationships with students as a building block to their success, we are able to assist them in realizing all of the other conditions necessary for their success. Again, this is not a one size fits all answer, the conditions for success are personal too.

Know your students, carve the path to academic success for them and have faith that they will walk that path with ownership and courage, but if they stumble, you and the other educators in that collaborative environment will be there to help them find their feet again, and eventually experience success.

Student Perceptions (theirs or others')?

So now that we've discussed "what" student academic success is, and the necessary conditions to create academic success, we must examine the opposite end of the spectrum. What are the perceptions of academically unsuccessful students and how can you create opportunities for success based on their perceptions?

This is really the crux of this chat because we can easily identify the students that have not been successful & learn from them; data is our friend, even when the outcome is not favorable.

From the chat we learned that many times students have one misstep & they give up. Many students who have experienced failure become apathetic, angry, unmotivated, and sometimes pose behavior problems. Jeremy Goldman made a beautiful point during the chat that brought some of my personal experiences with this question full circle, "asking about perceptions of academically unsuccessful students needs to address both self-perceptions and others' perceptions."

How often have you or others that you work with altered your expectations of certain students who have a history of failure?

I have seen many educators alter their expectations of students who have failed, this is one of the most frustrating parts of being an Ethical School Counselor; they don't get you and your constant positive view, and you don't get their way of thinking or understand why they chose to go into education.

Students who are treated differently, or perceive that they are not expected to succeed will rise (or fall) to the occassion. This is why I love the comprehensive school counseling program and pride myself on being an ethical School Counselor. I expect all of my students to succeed, to graduate, to find their own happiness in life. This may look different for each of them, but I expect them all to do it, that is the perception they all need to have in terms of my investment as their School Counselor.

Data & Making this all Work for your Program

Creating academic success for students really is about having a relationship with them and using data. First and foremost, student success needs to be one of your school counseling program goals annually. From there, your Action Plan will create the path for you and eventually your students.

I receive data on my students from multiple sources, School Report Card, Weekly Eligibility Report, testing, Attendance Reports, Failure Reports, Course Rosters, Pre/Post tests, etc.

The data that you focus on should be driven by the GOALS of your School Counseling Program.

I personally focus on testing data (Explore Early Intervention Roster), failure reports and eligibility reports; these help me identify the students that need that extra TLC, in addition to what is provided through the School Counseling Curriculum.

For example, each summer I look at the Explore Early Intervention Roster to see which 8th graders I want to invite to my Study Skills Bootcamp in the fall. These would be students who expressed a need in learning more about Study Skills; I do the same thing for the freshman. This is a very easy way to formulate a plan for Small Groups, focused on the Academic Domain, and easy to fit into almost any School Counseling Program.

Identify Data Mines that work for your program goals, study the data, create goals and action plans, and look forward to the results.

TweetChat unanswered questions

During the chat we had some technical difficulties which caused me to miss these questions:

  1. What recommendations do you have when developing pre/post test to collect data.
  2. Why data is important & new ideas of how to collect & share it!
  3. How can we continue to work smarter and not harder when it relates to data
  4. Finding some new ways to get data and how to utilize it more effectively
  5. I want to learn more about using attendance/testing/report card data
I hope that this blog post shed some light on your questions and helps you to take the next step to creating more academic success for your students.

What have you learned from this post, or from the TweetChat?
Please share your thoughts below.

The next School Counselor Tweet Chat is on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 7 pm CST

For transcripts of previous #SCCHATs, schedules for future School Counselor Tweet Chats, and information on how to participate, visit #SCCHAT Info:

Thanks again to Danielle Schultz for the opportunity, I LOVE #SCCHAT!

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