Needs Assessments, Evaluation Methods, & Data, Oh My!: Part II: Data Interpretation


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In Monday’s post, I shared my methods of collecting data for my school counseling program. Continuing with part II of this series, today I will be writing about interpreting that information. {Don’t worry…it will be fun!}

Click here to view Part I of the data collection series.


Individual Sessions

Once I’ve collected my data, I know the total number of individual counseling sessions I conducted that school year, along with the percentage of the sessions that fall in different categories {i.e. anger management, academic counseling, family issues, etc.}. Now what do I do with all of that information??

First, I compare my number of individual sessions to the total number from the previous year. Since this is my second year at my current school, my numbers increased A LOT from year 1 to year 2 {from 405 to 544}. This tells me that the students are beginning to feel more comfortable talking to me and that I have probably done a better job explaining to them what I do and how to see me. Now, while quantity is not always indicative of quality, that dramatic increase from my first to second year gives me an idea of how the student body is responding to my presence at the school. I do not expect such a big increase between this year’s sessions and next year’s sessions, although I am hoping for a small increase. {On Friday, I will be writing all about using data to set and evaluate goals, so check back then for more on this!}


Small Group Sessions

The data I collect from my small group sessions helps me know how my group participants are responding to the group. Since the surveys I use are anonymous, students are more likely to be honest. They may not tell me to my face that they didn’t feel respected by group members, but they will probably indicate it on a survey.

My Lunch Bunch data actually helped me work out some kinks in my sign up procedure {see my Lunch Bunch post for more info}. A large number of students indicated that they had problems signing up for Lunch Bunch, which surprised me, because I always make sure there is enough space on the list for every 5th grade girl to sign up. When I asked the 5th grade girls as a whole if anyone wanted to say why they had trouble with the sign up process, I learned that certain girls were signing up themselves and their friends, without their friends being aware. Those friends then couldn’t sign up for themselves on their own preferred days. If I hadn’t collected that data and asked about it, I may not have realized this was an issue to address for next year.


Needs Assessments & Program Evaluations

I use the data from these surveys A LOT when tweaking my counseling program for the next school year. I utilize the student and parent topic suggestions to drive what I present on in the classroom, and I take the written feedback into consideration, especially if it is something I have received from multiple students or parents.

At the end of my first year at my current school, 84% of middle school students indicated they knew how to set up an appointment with me, which means that 16% did not know how to do this. Because I was potentially missing out on sessions with 16% of my middle school students, I made a point at the beginning of the next school year to explain in plenty of detail the many ways they can get in touch with me, and I reiterated these ways throughout the school year. At the end of this school year, 98% of students indicated that they know how to set up an appointment, which tells me that my method of explaining the process worked. I still want to get that number to 100% though!!

In my last parent survey, 78% indicated they understood the role of the school counselor, which told me that I needed to do some educating and advocating. In response to that data, I created a brochure for my counseling program to hand out to parents at my school’s Back to School Night. I also incorporated other marketing techniques {check out my marketing and advocating post here}.


Informal Data

As mentioned in part I of this series, I informally gather information from my lower school students by asking them to recall the lessons I presented throughout the year. I use this information in planning my classroom lessons for the following school year. For example, this year, when I informally assessed 3rd grade, there was one lesson that NONE of the students could remember until I reminded them of what it was. In fact, I even had a difficult time remembering. It was my first time implementing this particular lesson, and based on the information I acquired from those students, I will probably nix or alter that lesson for next year.


A big way I use my data to enhance my school counseling program is through setting and evaluating SMART goals. Come back to the blog on Friday for the final part of this series to learn about how those goals tie into my data collection!

View Part III Here

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