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Intervention strategies and student achievement at three urban schools

Barbara Ann Smith, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study examined the impact of a specific form of intervention on the school performance and behavior of students to determine if such intervention can influence achievement. Students perceived as needing help were referred to a support group in their school led by a psychologist and a teacher, assisted by a team of school staff volunteers. The intervention consisted of giving three sets of sixth to twelfth grade students a support group to deal with the children's everyday issues and problems using a combination of human relations and group therapy techniques. The groups met weekly for ten weeks. Activities were designed to focus on self-esteem and problems affecting school behavior. The sample was composed of 100 high school and middle school students. Participants represented a cross-section of the population, both ethnically and socioeconomically. A control group of similar students also met weekly, using an open discussion format and worksheet projects. For evaluation purposes, the Metropolitan Achievement Test, the Student Rating Scale, attendance records and records of staff observation were used. Significant changes were observed, suggesting that this type of intervention made a major difference in the way these adolescents perceived school and themselves. Even students who had not been expected to benefit from the intervention responded and, further, showed improvement in several areas in a short time period. The comparison for pre- and post-measures of school behavior showed that the procedure had influenced students' school performance. Of the factors measured, attendance was most positively affected by intervention, although reading scores also rose. Gains in reading achievement as well as attendance were made in 10 weeks by Black males who had previously failed to respond to more traditional approaches to student improvement. The experimental students' attendance improved, while the control group attendance did not. The study results indicate that intervention has an impact on attendance and influences achievement to some degree. Intervention is therefore suggested as a useful alternative to traditional methods of dropout prevention and performance improvement.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Occupational psychology|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Smith, Barbara Ann, "Intervention strategies and student achievement at three urban schools" (1993). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9329669.