How Do You Know if Your Small Group is Successful?

Most school counselors work so hard to fit everything into their schedule that they often forget to see if what they are doing is actually working. Today we will explore the process for evaluating small group effectiveness.

What’s the goal of your intervention?

First things first, you must come up with a goal for the group. You are either trying to increase or decrease something, but you need to know your goal before you begin and how it is that you will track your progress toward that goal.

Your goal should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-specific.

Specific & Measurable

Your goals should be related to the big areas your school needs to focus on, such as attendance, achievement, or discipline. You don’t want to say, “I want everyone to have better attendance.” Who is everyone? By how much should their attendance improve? Remember, “better” is not measurable.


Each goal should have data to support the need for the intervention. There has to be an issue, a need that warrants your time and attention. If you were trying to increase your FAFSA submission from 98% to 99%, you are missing the point of developing a goal. I use data from surveys, persistent issues, and our data tracking system to determine the need for intervention.


Avoid getting overly ambitious, yes, I want all of my students to have incredible attendance, but creating a goal for your chronically absent students to achieve 100% attendance next semester will just leave you feeling frustrated and defeated.


Ideally, your goal will have a beginning and ending date within the same school year. If you are running a small group, you can compare data pre and post group.

Example goal:

Achievement goal for the 2018-2019 SY is to increase reading fluency for eight 2nd grade students by 5 WPM from winter to spring.

I have included a photo of one of my group data analysis sheets that I submitted last year as part of my end of year data collection to my principal. You heard right, I said “collection,” I provide a collection of data for my groups and school-wide interventions annually.

As you can see, I love colorful graphs–they just make my heart happy. This makes the information easy to read and visually appealing.

Notice that I didn’t only include numbers, I helped the numbers tell the story of the group. I included anecdotal information in my data analysis. It is pretty powerful when a kid shares that because of the group, they “didn’t have to be embarrassed” about their feelings or actually feel more “confident” about their school work.

Most of the work we do is nebulous, but it is our job to ensure that we can quantify at least some parts of our work to provide concrete data that what we do matters.