2 Ideas for Impactful Tier 1 Academic Interventions with High School Students

My high school has always had a notably high graduation rate, and I am convinced a big part is because of the effort put towards tier 1 academic interventions with our students. 

With a tier 1 intervention, we were aiming to reach ALL students, something universally implemented in the school. 

One big way we reached all students each year is through academic planning lessons to all students in each grade level. 

The second big way we aimed to reach all students academically is by intentional analysis and planning using data. That sounds really fancy, but let me break it down for you.

When counselors speak data, administrators readily invite them into the conversation. It’s important to be in these student-centered conversations if you want to make an impact on academics, behavior, attendance, and more. School counselors have so much value to share and expertise to impart. Instead of waiting to be invited, find out when these meetings are happening. Get yourself a seat at that table!

So… who was involved? There were a handful of key people in the school who we got into the same room to make this happen. Every two weeks, we had a “Student Support Team” meeting with all school counselors (8!) and all administrators (5 assistant principals plus principal). We had tried a few different ways to make this efficient depending on how our caseloads were divided up, and our most recent system was a little like speed dating. Since our caseloads were divided up by alphabet and administrators were divided by grade level (with an extra assistant principal for off-grade level students and extra support), we would meet in a big conference room and rotate around. Once I had met with each administrator, I was free to leave. This felt like the best use of everyone’s time.

When I talked to each administrator, I came prepared with a few reports and notes. I preferred to have a Google Sheet that I shared with the administrator ahead of time so nothing was a surprise to them, and I could add notes to it in live time if needed. Here are the things I would include on a Google Sheet shared with all counselors and administrators:

  • Student Name
  • Student Grade
  • Grade in class (failing grade)
  • Class
  • Teacher
  • Counselor Notes
  • Parent Outreach
  • Counselor Follow Up
  • Admin Notes
  • Admin Follow Up
In addition to the bimonthly “Student Support Team” meetings, we would hold a quarterly “Data Action Team.” This idea came from a principal who was very data driven and motivated to raise the graduation rate. More people were involved in this meeting. We sat round-table in a conference room with all counselors and administrators (like the Student Support Team) plus: attendance clerk, school counseling clerk, school psychologist, mental health counselor, and instructional coach. The principal would run this meeting to keep us on track, and sometimes data, spreadsheets, or notes were projected where everyone could see. Very similar things are shared at this meeting. Counselors and admin share a bit more concisely. It’s more sharing what is working and what isn’t working. Attendance and school counseling clerks are accounting for students who are coming late to school, who are not coming to school at all, and who supposedly have transferred to other schools. Having everyone in the same room helps fill in gaps in the stories, allow for referrals (to school counselors, mental health counselor, and school psychologist). 
Ultimately, as a counselor, I care about that, too. I want students to graduate with a high school diploma, so they have more opportunities to move onto whatever their next chapter is: be it work, school, or military. We can all agree that a high school diploma will open many doors, and I want to help make that difference! Tier 1 academic interventions are a solid way to ensure ALL students are receiving academic supports and no students are slipping through the cracks without being served.

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