Garden Grove High School est. 1921
Pride, Performance, and the Pursuit of Excellence

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Comprehensive Guidance Program

   

Description of Program

 

 

Preparing students for post-secondary success is a critical component of Garden Grove High School’s broad and deep commitment to ensuring all students are college and career ready. This philosophy is aligned with the Garden Grove Unified School District’s Strategic Plan and also its annual LCAP update which devotes one of its eight state priorities to Pupil Achievement and, more specifically, ensuring pupils are college and career ready.  It is aligned to and distinguishes itself from both GGUSD LCAP 3A (1) regarding creation of a college-going culture and GGUSD LCAP 3A (2) regarding completion of A-G requirements. Further, preparation for post-secondary success is also driven by the GGHS mission statement which states, “Each student will seek to achieve lifelong success and be well rounded and prepared for life beyond high school.” To ensure this GGHS has upleveled its extensive student support system, the Comprehensive Guidance Program, which is modified annually in order to maximize its impact on our kids.

 

In 2015 GGHS had an A-G rate of 47.9% and according to National Clearinghouse Data, only 23.5% of those eligible students went on to enroll in a 4-year college. Administration and counseling noticed the disparity in these numbers as well as a need to work on the A-G rate, and so an emphasis was put on developing ways to increase the amount of students that were college eligible. Multiple targeted steps were taken including focused transcript audits, student tracking system, increased focus on APEX, and online high school credit recovery/advancement.  It was also clear that there were many different factors which acted as roadblocks for students along the application process which became contributors to the low Clearinghouse data. Administrators and counselors identified where students ran into obstacles in areas such as FAFSA application, SAT/ACT enrollment, Advanced Placement enrollment, and the college application itself (specifically personal essay) with the idea being that providing supports in these areas through the entire college enrollment process would get more students enrolled in college. Through this work and in an effort to increase both the A-G and Clearinghouse metrics, the Comprehensive Guidance Program honed its focus at taking measures to increase the A-G rate and reinforcing the foundational supports that would help students achieve college readiness and success.

 

The Comprehensive Guidance Program now has many layers all aimed at addressing two key areas of need 1) increasing A-G rate and 2) Increasing the number of students attending a 4-year college by providing focused assistance through the application process. Each of these two goals is designed to support an area of need for our students which will ultimately prepare them for post-secondary success. These targeted efforts as a school-wide team have yielded positive outcomes and sustainability. For example, not only have we seen a steady increase in A-G rates in the last four years, but we have also seen an 11% increase in completed FAFSA applications, 31% increase in the number of students taking AP courses, and a 21% increase in the number of students taking the SAT/ACT.

 

   

Implementation and Monitoring

 

 

Significant data-driven additions were added to Comprehensive Guidance Program based on student need, and subsequent yearly data analysis has brought the Comprehensive Guidance Plan to what it is today. Four years ago counselors realized that with increasing enrollment numbers, GGHS was in need of more manpower if it could successfully morph its plan to support students in this capacity. The school reached out to the district a year in advance and the district responded by adding a 5th counselor in 2015 and well as a college adviser, a full-time position that works with guidance in a way that supports the college enrollment process. In 2016 the College Boost program started, where for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week, a college mentor assisted in supporting the school site’s needs. Together, this extra support gave Guidance the resources needed to enhance the Comprehensive Guidance Program.

 

One of the targets of the program was to improve A-G rates so that more students could become college eligible. Transcript audits for every student at every grade level were conducted by the counselors and some administrators. Each transcript was looked at through the lens of determining a successful scheduling plan to make that student college eligible up to the point at which it became mathematically impossible to accomplish. After the audits, follow-up meetings with students, and often parents, were held to discuss expectations, give rationale, and in many cases provide motivation.

 

An offshoot of the transcript audits was the subsequent tracking of eligible students. Counselors noted them on their caseload and followed their progress both during the semester and at the end of the semester. Counselors were then able to work with the student and intervene when necessary to provide information such as tutoring options to parents and students if they struggled in a certain class.

 

APEX became an extremely valuable scheduling tool to fill in gaps for kids. Administration used the counseling information provided in the Comprehensive Guidance Program and allocated more LCFF opportunities towards APEX and the result has been higher APEX enrollment. Online high school numbers have grown significantly and it is used in the same manner as APEX but adds the ability for credit advancement in math and health.

 

The implementation of all these measures along with the increased awareness we have brought to the value of A-G rates has had a drastic effect.

 

Counselors and administrators also concluded that providing focused assistance through the college application process would be equally valuable in increasing the number students attending a 4-year. Anecdotal accounts at the time revealed a high number of instances where students failed to continue along the application process for a variety of reasons and that by implementing a detailed plan to support students, fewer would become derailed along the way.

 

One of the main issues noted by our students as a reason to abandon the application process was a concern with their family’s ability to afford college. As a Title 1 school with over 60% of students on free and reduced lunch, the majority of our students are in need of financial aid. Today, a concentrated program is in place with the goal of having 100% of our students submit a FAFSA/CA Dream Act application. The work begins in the fall but intensifies in Jan/Feb when the college adviser works with every senior through their Econ/Civics class. The adviser organizes whole class presentations as well as individual meetings and guides every senior through the FAFSA process. At its completion, the adviser will have assisted and reviewed each senior’s application and followed through all the way to the act of watching a student press the submit button.

 

Getting students enrolled to take the SAT and ACT has been a major focus as well. Counselors now review the fee waiver processes, prep courses, and dates in their student meetings and then keep these records on Google Sheets. They pass the information to College Boost and college advisers who then meet individually with college eligible students and oversee their enrollment on the spot.

 

Four years ago GGHS partnered with Equal Opportunity Schools to ensure students of all backgrounds have equal access to the most academically intense high school programs. Through an AP readiness survey, school leaders created an equal opportunity plan to increase enrollment of underrepresented subgroups in these classes. Students were taught skills for academic success and participated in activities designed to help build their sense of belonging in AP courses. This mindset and these supports have brought profound growth. Comprehensive Guidance Program identified closely monitoring the college application itself and providing aid throughout the process. Counselors organize a day where the UC’s present about the application process to juniors with an emphasis on the writing prompt which has been the most complicated aspect. Summer workshops are now offered to help incoming seniors on the application. In the fall, senior English classes focus on the writing prompt. Guidance schedules presentations reminding of deadlines and holds individual senior conferences tailored to the application process. Counselors then take the information from the conferences and combines them on Google Sheets to track the progress so that follow up and check-ins are targeted and efficient.

 

Informing our parents and students of our goals through the Comprehensive Guidance Program has helped to bring school and community together. Parents and school share the mutual goal of having students prepared for college and the school’s commitment to lead students through the process is particularly reassuring to our families. The elements of our program are touched upon on various levels at all parent events such as orientation, Open House, Back to School, A-G Night, ELAC, SSC, College Information Nights, etc. Every other year parents have the opportunity to give their opinions about the school in the Strategic Plan Survey. The survey includes topics such as motivation, climate and culture, and socio-emotional well-being. The most recent Strategic Plan Survey data (2017-18) reported continued growth in parent and student satisfaction.

   

Results

 
 

The Comprehensive Guidance Program was designed to both increase A-G rates and at the same time increase the amount of students who are enrolled the following year in a 4-year college. This area of focus has had a distinct impact over time. Over the last four years the increase in A-G rate is as follows:  2015- 47.9%, 2016- 49.5%, 2017- 51%, 2018- 55.5%. Transcript audits are now done on 100% of the student body at least once a year and all students’ progress is tracked.  For APEX in 2015 there were 25 seats purchases and 40 completed classes while in 2018, 50 seats were purchased and 87 classes were completed. Online high school enrollment rose from 180 students in 2016 to 291 students in 2018.

 

In 2018, we saw 75% percent of students submit a FAFSA application as opposed to 64% percent in 2013-14. A quick look at this year’s CSAC Race to the Top shows 47% of our 575 seniors have already submitted an application and we have over half of the seniors still to work with prior to the March 2 deadline. In 2018 59% of seniors took the SAT as opposed to 48% in 2013. There have been similar results with the ACT as only 74 tests were taken in 2014 and 123 in 2018. Advanced Placement class enrollment has grown significantly from 574 kids in 2014 to 753 in 2018. In 2018, 232 students sent out applications to a 4-year college as opposed to 170 in 2015. And finally Clearinghouse data shows a steady growth in the percentage of students attending a 4-year college after graduating from GGHS: 23.5% in 2015, 26.7% in 2016, and 27.2% in 2017. Data for 2018 will be forthcoming in March.

 

At GGHS, implementation and commitment to LCAP is a priority. In our Comprehensive Guidance Program we align to the eight state priorities, particularly in the area of Category B: Pupil Outcomes, Pupil Achievement, specifically that “pupils are college and career ready.” The Comprehensive Guidance Program is directly aligned to GGUSD LCAP Action 3A (1) which calls for a “Focus on a college-going culture in all grades K-12, and expose students to various college and career options/pathways,” and similarly it is aligned to GGUSD LCAP Action 3A (2) which calls to “Maintain a goal for all students to complete A-G subject requirements.” The Comprehensive Guidance Program distinguishes itself from the district model by extending the depth and breadth of the measures utilized to achieve its goals. The commitment to addressing all aspects of the extensive college application process and the systematic plan employed to apply the necessary resources distinguishes this model program. The data discussed throughout indicates that we are on the right track, and we will continue to review our program and analyze data in order to assess options which make the greatest student impact.