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GOT NINTH-GRADERS? Bob Bardwell, Director of Guidance, Monson High School, Monson, Mass.; Amy Thompson, Career & College Counselor, York Community High.

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Presentation on theme: "GOT NINTH-GRADERS? Bob Bardwell, Director of Guidance, Monson High School, Monson, Mass.; Amy Thompson, Career & College Counselor, York Community High."— Presentation transcript:

1 GOT NINTH-GRADERS? Bob Bardwell, Director of Guidance, Monson High School, Monson, Mass.; Amy Thompson, Career & College Counselor, York Community High School, Elmhurst, Ill.

2 WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? As a result of the increased demands of high school, the statistics generated from freshman year are concerning. Ninth-graders have the lowest grade point average, the most missed classes, the majority of failing grades, and more misbehavior referrals than any other high school grade level (Fritzer & Herbst, 1996). Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found that up to 40% of ninth-grade students in cities with the highest dropout rates repeat the ninth grade, but only 10% to 15% of those repeaters go on to graduate (Kennelly & Monrad, 2007). While the transition of a student from middle school to high school can represent an important milestone in that student's educational career, it can also be a time masked with feelings of loneliness, isolation, and disconnection (Cooper & Liou, 2007).

3 THE RESEARCH SHOWS….. Coming from a smaller-sized middle school to a larger-sized high school can be overwhelming for students (Butts & Cruzeiro, 2005). Transferring to a new school creates a transition period that is frequently marked by declining academic performance, increased absences, and increased behavior disturbances. These factors put freshmen more "at risk" than any other school- aged group (Fritzer & Herbst, 1996). In fact, students who fail to make a smooth transition to high school dropout as early as the end of ninth grade (Cooper & Liou, 2007).

4 WHAT’S THE SOLUTION? Solutions include, but are not limited to, (1) a meet the teacher night for soon-to- be freshmen, (2) a ninth-grade orientation for both students and parents before school begins, and (3) the use of student mentors (Morgan & Hertzog, 2001; Cushman, 2006). Surveyed high school students using hindsight suggest providing information to debunk myths. Other suggestions include sending high school students to the middle schools to discuss exactly what high school will be like (Cushman, 2006). These transition attempts should not end when the eighth-grade students arrive, but should be continued throughout most of the ninth-grade year (Morgan & Hertzog, 2001).

5 MORE RESEARCH… There are many other ideas and programs that schools can implement to help with the freshman transition that are not as simple and quick, but require more time and often money. One high school in Georgia, for example, has created a special program for their ninth-graders that includes a class called "High School 101." In this class, students are taught essential high school survival skills such as time management, decision-making skills, study skills, test-taking strategies, social tolerance, computer research skills, and career alignment (Chmelynski, 2004). Other school districts have implemented summer schools for incoming ninth- graders, programs that provide after school homework and study help, seminar periods, and block scheduling (Kennelly & Monrad, 2007; Smith, et al., 2008).

6 IT’S ALSO ABOUT THE ADULTS Additionally, adults in authority are important, and play a large part in a student's successful transition to high school (Cooper & Liou, 2007). Such adults include the school staff (teachers, administers, and guidance counselors) along with parents. When these groups are asked how to help ease the transition to high school, parents suggest giving students better tours of the school and having more interaction between the middle and high schools, and teachers suggest a more rigorous middle school curriculum and enrichment work be given over the summer of the transition (Akos & Galassi, 2004).

7 BOTTOM LINE Regardless, it seems imperative that something be done to smooth the transition. Research by Kennelly and Monrad (2007) shows that schools with fully operational transition programs have an average dropout rate of only 8%, while schools without these programs have a dropout rate of 24%.

8 HOW DO YOU HELP TRANSITION 9 TH GRADERS? Mentoring Advisory Orientation

9 MENTORING Mentor programs can be structured in many different ways, depending on what will best serve your student needs. o Faculty, counselors, staff, or coaches o Community members & business leaders o Upper grade students All Mentors serve in a “role model” capacity but may serve in very different ways: o One-on-one time in open areas o Small groups o Classroom groups

10 HOW TO SELECT MENTORS? Any student in good standing can apply Counselors encourage those who we perceive will bring leadership skills to the program. Counselors also look for the “diamond in the rough” kids. Application requires: o Responses to six short answer essay questions. o Teacher recommendation. o List of 5 “most important” activities.

11 MENTOR SELECTION (CONTINUED) After preliminary review of applicants, interviews are scheduled Mentors complete an online survey (google doc) indicating availability for interview. Mentors & their parent must sign a “Statement of Commitment”. Mentors must bring a sample lesson with them to the interview.

12 ADVISORY – WHAT IS IT? Small group advisory is an opportunity for all students to connect with an adult school staff member in small groups (10-12) on a regular basis. Students may participate in team building and interclass activities as well as participate in discussions about important school-related topics (i.e.: bullying, cheating, appreciation of differences, goal setting, future planning). Advisory can also act as a time for teachers to "check-in" with students in one-on-one meetings while other students complete school work. Advisory creates opportunity to foster ongoing relationships in hopes of improving the climate and sense of connectedness within the school.

13 ADVANTAGES OF ADVISORY Provides another adult in addition to the school counselor in the school to get to know each student Makes a large school feel smaller Can help to deliver the guidance curriculum and other skills not taught elsewhere in the curriculum Increases morale & improves school climate Provides opportunity for class spirit and friendly competition Can help with 9 th grade transition

14 SAMPLE TOPICS FOR ADVISORY/ORIENTATION o Agenda books o Rules/Student Handbooks o Online progress report system (i.e.: Edline) o Extra-curricular activities o Mission statement/academic expectations o Goal setting o Report Cards/exams o Technology use policies

15 ORIENTATION Can simulate the Advisory set-up. Can be event-driven. May be taught or lead by administration, counselors, faculty, and/or students. Activities can range to cover all domains and be delivered in different settings (depends upon your student’s needs): o Social/Emotional o Academic/Educational o Career/College

16 WHAT CAN TRANSITION LOOK LIKE? (MONSON HS) Big Brother/Big Sister model Letter writing from big siblings and SAP advisors Welcome back activities o Dance o Picnic o Lunch

17 ORIENTATION – MONSON HS We view the orientation as a process and not an event We incorporate many of our orientation activities into our Advisory program Individual meeting in June with all grade 8 students and the high school counselors to review course requests Freshmen receive three letters over the summer – Principal, SAP advisor, & Big sibling

18 ORIENTATION – MONSON HS (CONT) Welcome barbecue for students and families o Typically have 50% staff and 90% of students attend o Funded by School Improvement Funds o Food prepared by high school staff o Presentation for students & parents after dinner o Student get their schedules and tour with big sibling o Parent opportunity to address concerns, Q&A o Ice cream social

19 WHAT CAN TRANSITION PROGRAMS LOOK LIKE? (YORK HS) Freshman Night o Parents & Students together for welcome o Parents sent to a series of presentations/discussions Rules and differences from MS: Presented by Administration What HS is like academically: co-presented by Teacher/Counselor Experiences from the parent view: Parent Panels o Students sent to a different set of presentations/discussions Ice breakers, obtain ID’s, agendas: Lead by mentors Tour of school: Presented by mentors Activities/Clubs & Code of Conduct: Presented by student leaders

20 MORE TRANSITION – YORK HS Freshman Day o Half-day for freshmen only. o Upperclassmen leaders help in the hallways, o Freshmen have three large group sessions: Differences between HS & MS rules and regs: Admin Your support team: Student Services Technology Access: Teachers/Tech Team o Run through their schedule with 6 minute periods & passing periods o Culminates in a lunch BBQ.

21 FRESHMAN ORIENTATION/GUIDANCE(FOG) - YORK 50 minute lunch periods Freshmen meet with a variety of people during ½ of their lunch period, four days a week (Friday Free Day)

22 YORK COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL o Guidance: Counselor teaches Guidance Curriculum o Mentors: Counselor supervises Freshman Mentors as they deliver Mentor Curriculum. o Study Day: Teacher supervises study time two days per week and meet with freshmen individually to discuss grades/progress in all classes as well as connecting them to resources/academic supports.

23 FINAL PRODUCT Curriculum review conducted annually o Guidance Curriculum (Counselors) o Mentor Curriculum (Mentors & Counselors) o Advisor’s Role (Advisors & Counselors) Pre-Post surveys give us feedback Data Drives our decisions (see sample data)

24 I FELT MY COUNSELOR WANTED ME TO BE SUCCESSFUL & CONNECTED TO YORK.

25 I FELT I DEVELOPED A CONNECTION WITH MY COUNSELOR.

26 I FELT THE MENTORS WANTED ME TO FEEL WELCOME & CONNECTED AT YORK.

27 FOR MORE INFORMATION Amy Thompson Career & College Counselor York Community High School, Elmhurst, Ill Bob Bardwell School Counselor & Director of Guidance Monson High School, Monson MA x1107


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