Ready, Set, Second Semester: Make a Plan

Read Time:  min |  Counselor Life, Your Program

It’s time to get ready for 2nd semester! Wait, you say, the 1st semester isn’t even over yet?! Exactly! In order to hit the ground running after winter break, it’s time to crunch some data and create a plan for your 2nd semester so that you are supporting the right students in the right way. Planning school counseling services does not have to be a daunting task. Prioritizing using your data will make it more straightforward.


Where to Start

If it’s one of those years and you didn’t make a plan or your plan is so far off track you need to start from scratch, I got ya. Here are some places to start to¬†determine which students to prioritize:


Students with less than 90% attendance in the 1st semester:

Research shows that 90% attendance is crucial for staying on track. Are 80% of your students at school at least 90% of the time? In my state, we go to school 180 days, so students with 18 or more absences in a year are not in attendance 90%. For the 1st semester, that translates to 9 absences. If more than 20% of my students are absent 9 or more days in the 1st semester, I know that I need a core plan.


Perhaps we want to do a schoolwide push for attendance or teach lessons on the importance of coming to school. If my list of students with 9 or more absences is less than 20% of my school, then I can work with students in groups or individually.


Students with failing grades end of the 1st semester:

Pull a list of students who are failing either Math or ELA at the end of 1st semester. Take some time to consult with grade level PLCs to discuss what students are missing and how you might help.


In elementary, I find it best to start with 3rd – 5th graders because they are more developmentally ready to take control over their own learning. In K-2, you can consult with teachers to see what other factors may be impeding this child’s success.


For secondary, any student failing a core class at the end of a semester is at-risk of failing or dropping out and should be at the top of your list for intervention.


Students with a high number of office referrals:

What that number is will depend on your school. Discuss with your administration or other student services staff members what the response will be for students who are frequent flyers to the office. This group of students usually benefits from a combination of activities including individual counseling, parent communication, and behavior intervention strategies.


Follow Your Plan

Whether you created a plan at the beginning of the year or are just starting now, end of the semester is a great time to check in on what students need support and to make sure that a plan is in place and actually happening. If we don’t make a plan, we fall prey to “random acts of guidance,” responding to the loudest problem rather than proactively working with students that need the most help at that moment.

This is dangerous because not only might you be wasting time (you don’t have!) but students may miss out on what they need. Once you have a list of students and an idea of what you need, you know what to do.

Now it’s time to manage your data without losing your mind.


Create a plan for second semester so that your counseling program is ready to go.