Student Success Skills: Tools and Strategies for Improved Academic and Social Outcomes

By Webb, Linda D.; Brigman, Greg A. | Professional School Counseling, December 2006 | Go to article overview

Student Success Skills: Tools and Strategies for Improved Academic and Social Outcomes


Webb, Linda D., Brigman, Greg A., Professional School Counseling


This article is a follow-up to previously published reports of research evaluating the effectiveness of the Student Success Skills group and classroom intervention. An overview of the key skill areas is provided, supported by ongoing research in the area of social-emotional learning, along with research-based strategies and activities that have been found to improve academic and social outcomes for all students. Key tools for classroom guidance lessons are included and are accompanied by specific guidelines for how school counselors can implement them. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the need to implement research-supported programs.

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Recent studies have provided strong evidence of effectiveness for the school counselor-led Student Success Skills (SSS) intervention in positively effecting the academic achievement and social competence of students (Brigman & Campbell, 2003; Brigman, Webb, & Campbell, in press; Campbell & Brigman, 2005; Webb, Brigman, & Campbell, 2005). To date, the SSS research has involved four studies, 50 school counselors, 36 schools, two school districts, and more than 1,100 students in Grades 5, 6, 8, and 9. In each study, low to mid-range achieving students in targeted grade levels were randomly assigned to treatment and comparison groups. Treatment group students received the SSS classroom and group intervention. Achievement gains in math and reading were measured by the annual statewide achievement test used to determine adequate yearly progress in response to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). Behavior gains were measured by the School Social Behavior Scale (SSBS; Merrell, 1993).

The findings of all four SSS studies were consistent. Eighty-six percent of students who participated in the SSS program improved their math Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores, with an average scale score improvement of 30 points. Seventy-eight percent of students improved their FCAT reading scores by an average of 25 scale score points. With the use of an analysis of covariance, with pretest scores used as the covariate, the achievement improvements were statistically significant. This suggests that improvements were the result of this school counselor-led intervention. In addition, 7 of 10 students demonstrated improved behavior as reported by classroom teachers on the SSBS.

The skill sets, tools, and strategies embedded in the SSS program were developed based on extensive reviews of the research regarding improved academic and social outcomes for students (Hattie, Biggs, & Purdie, 1996; Masten & Coatsworth, 1998; Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1994). In all three reviews, certain cognitive/learning, social, and self-management skills were considered essential for academic and social success. The program is further supported by a growing body of literature tying social and emotional competence to achievement outcomes, making a strong empirical case linking social-emotional learning to improved behavioral and academic performance for students, including those at risk for academic failure (Arbona, 2000; Daly, Duhon, & Witt, 2002; Elias et al., 2003; Fad, 1990; Kamps & Kay, 2001; Marzano, Pickering, & Pollack, 2001; Zins, Weissberg, Wang, & Walberg, 2004).

The SSS program also provides support for the ASCA National Model[R] (American School Counselor Association, 2005). While standards, competencies, and student outcomes are all clearly outlined for academic, personal/social, and career domains in the ASCA National Model, counselors are charged with finding programs that have been proven effective to help students attain these outcomes. The SSS program provides a research-based curriculum that is a direct fit with identified student outcomes outlined in the ASCA National Model, particularly related to personal/social and academic domains. The curriculum indirectly impacts student outcomes in the career domain, as students who are not successful academically and socially have difficulty preparing for the world of work. …

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