How to Stop Students from Committing Severe Incidents Before They Happen – The Great 8 Skills

In this Mini-Series, we’ll take you through three different studies about social and emotional learning. Each case will provide valuable insight into the importance of assessing and bolstering social and emotional skills in children of all ages. In the first of our 3-part series, we’ll talk about how one district in Texas developed a quick approach to promote the social and emotional growth of their students. With this approach they saw immediate results, including reduced infractions and suspensions. The effects of social and emotional learning were truly measured and felt in this district, as evidenced by a reduction in In-School Suspensions and Office Discipline Referrals. But enough from me, I’ll let Kaci Sheridan, Secondary Behavior Specialist from Humble Independent School District, tell you more about their success.

Humble ISD has implemented a k-12 social and emotional program that is centered on what we call “The Great 8”. The Great 8 are the skills identified by the DESSA universal behavior screener. These skills highly correlate with the research being done regarding the skills needed for individuals to be successful in college and career fields once they have completed high school. Our district has chosen to target 1 skill per quarter so that students and staff can have a deeper understanding of what this skill means, how to apply it and an opportunity to practice the skill. It takes 2 years for a campus to offer instruction in all 8 of the skills. In order to target these skills our campuses are providing direct instruction in these areas, gearing their positive behavior support systems or (PBIS) systems to provide rewards when these skills are exhibited and also providing professional development for staff members regarding each of these skills.

Two middle schools in our district have chosen to implement our program in its entirety as well as making other changes to their behavioral RtI processes (increased targeted interventions, restorative discipline practices, etc.). Middle School 1 implemented the program in its entirety last year and showed drastic improvements in their discipline data. In the first year of implementation they had decreased their office discipline referrals by 16.2% and reduced their ISS placements by 10.7%. In Year 2 they have continued implementation and continue to show improvement. As of the conclusion of the 1st semester they had 502 office discipline referrals across all grade levels with 30 students making up half of those referrals. Those 30 students are receiving targeted interventions across a variety of people on the campus to help them gain the skills to be successful.

Middle School 2 is in the first year of implementation. They are utilizing all aspects of the program as well as providing interventions and examining practices in other areas. At the conclusion of 1 semester of implementation the campus reported: highest honor roll percentages since 2012-2013, highest report card GPA since 2013-2014 and a 10% reduction in failure marks from last year at the same time. Discipline referrals were reduced by 39% with a 43% reduction in ISS placements. Reductions in out of school suspension, detentions, Thursday classes and also days away from instruction were noted.

At Aperture, we celebrate these impressive results with our partners at Humble ISD. There are many great approaches to social and emotional learning, but the key to all of them is having quantifiable data to inform your instruction. Stay tuned for the next installment in our blog series. ____ Want a copy of the Great 8 Skills Poster? Download one today by clicking on the button below!

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