The Schools Group

Black Girls Matter


This report has been sitting on my desktop since it was released earlier this year to keep it top-of mind. We all were very excited to read it because we see this in our schools and now have the data and vocabulary to make this issue a part of the larger conversations we are having in our culture and smaller conversations in schools with teachers and administrators.

The report is titled Black Girls Matter:Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected from The Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia and The African American Policy Forum. In it, the authors point to the disproportionate suspension rates for girls of color compared to white girls—a greater disproportion than among boys. Some of the reasons are obvious—race plays a major role—but gender is also a factor, as these young women are perceived as not fitting the dominant cultural gender norms.

Here is a brief excerpt from the report:

It is well-established in the research literature and by educational advocates that there is a link between the use of punitive disciplinary measures and subsequent patterns of criminal supervision and incarceration. Commonly understood as the “school-to-prison pipeline,” this framework highlights the ways that punitive school policies lead to low achievement, system involvement, and other negative outcomes. Efforts to reverse the consequences of this pipeline have typically foregrounded boys of color, especially Black boys, who are suspended or expelled more than any other group.

As the cases outlined above demonstrate, punitive disciplinary policies also negatively impact Black girls and other girls of color. Yet much of the existing research literature excludes girls from the analysis, leading many stakeholders to infer that girls of color are not also at risk.

Check it out and let us know what you think.

Positive results in 2013-14


Although much delayed, we wanted to report our results from last year and hope we can meet or exceed them this year.

The 2013-2014 results were quite encouraging. Once again, we distributed a brief questionnaire to teachers at the end of the year, asking them to provide feedback on any student who had been seeing one of our interns regularly. We had the best response rate ever—57 questionnaires returned, although some were multiple ratings of the same student by different teachers.

In total, TSG interns provided 1630 counseling sessions (these can vary in length from 15-45 minutes) to a total of 136 students. This averages about 12 sessions per client, although many clients are seen regularly all year long and others are seen only for 2-3 sessions.

The teachers’ survey asks how strongly they agree or disagree that they saw positive changes in emotional regulation, social interactions, behavior, and academic performance in the students we counseled. Here are the data for Strongly Agree/Agree: Emotional Regulation 84%, Behavior 81%, Social Interactions 77%, and Academic Performance 51%.

Here are a few of the teacher’s comments:

“A. has developed positive coping skills and demonstrated leadership! Thank you!”

“I have seen big changes in G. He is more social than ever! Thank you!”

And a few of the client’s comments:

“You have helped me through my problems and I’m going to miss you very much.”

“Usually I’m not the kind of person who can easily express feelings, but I was able to tell her anything and everything.”

“I think she did good as a teacher because she cheers a person up and she is nice.”

An enormous thank you to our schools—Gale, Swift, Hayt, and Darwin—for their support, our wonderful interns, and my partner of three years, Kathryn Grubbs. Good job!


Outcome data show that we are making a difference!

It has been a busy year, and if you’ve been looking for a blog post, you’ve been disappointed. Life is calmer now that school is over, and we have some exciting results to report.

We had students in six schools last year and instituted two measures to help us evaluate the work we are doing with our young clients. We ask teachers to rate each student who has been seen consistently by a Schools Group intern on three measures: academic performance, social interactions, and classroom behavior.  They can agree, strongly agree, disagree or strongly disagree that the student had made improvements in these areas—or report no change.

We’ve just completed analysis of these data and results were very positive.  Teachers agreed that about 80% of the students receiving services from us improved in classroom behavior and social interactions.  They felt that 50% had improved in academic performance—a measure less likely to be as directly influenced by counseling as the other two.

In addition, here are some examples of what teachers took the time to add to their rating sheets:

“J. had great improvement with his behavior over the school year.  I saw a big difference with his anger.”

“H. still makes some bad decisions, but I believe she is more aware of her behavior and how it is affecting others.”

“You have been a stable presence for J. this year, and I know she looks forward to your times together.  Her behavior has shown marked improvement under your care.”

Although there is plentiful data to support the benefit of non-directive play therapy in a school setting, it is still very rewarding to have direct evidence that your work has had a positive effect.

Thanks to our six dedicated practicum students and  co-supervisor Kathryn Grubbs for a fruitful year!

Welcome to The Schools Group Blog

Whether you work with children and adolescents as a graduate student, a school counselor, a teacher, or in private practice, or you simply are interested in middle and high school clinical issues, The Schools Group blog will have something of interest for you.