Comprehensive Developmental School Counseling

School counseling grew in breadth and complexity. In the 1980s, the reformulation of school counseling as a program rather than as a position in a school gained primacy.

Three different models for school counseling programs emerged: Comprehensive Developmental Guidance (CDG) (Gysbers & Henderson, 1988), Developmental Guidance and Counseling (Myrick, 1987), and Results-Based Guidance (Johnson & Johnson, 1991). To a great extent the need for program evaluation in school counseling began in this period with a shift in thinking about school counseling as an organized program within a school rather than as a position that people occupy.

All three historical models maintain counseling as a program within schools that delivered a complex array of preventive and remedial services with the intention to promote student development across a wide range of domains, often expressed as academic, career, and personal/social development. All three models included program evaluation activities that were to be conducted by school counselors themselves or in collaboration with an external evaluator.These program evaluation tasks and activities reflected commonly accepted evaluation practices of the time. Gysbers and Henderson (1988), for example, included relatively sophisticated suggestions on how to (1) formatively evaluate the program through the use of implementation standards, (2) identify unintended negative and positive “side effects” of program implementation, (3) measure student learning and behavior change, (4) decide on an appropriate evaluation design (e.g., “observational,’’single group, control group), (5) select and develop evaluation instruments, and (6) share evaluation results with stakeholders. It is clear that these early models expected that school counselors would develop expertise in program evaluation and be able to exercise judgment and critical thinking as they designed, conducted, and reported the results of their program evaluations.

ASCA National Model

The ASCA National Model for school counseling programs is the most influential approach to the design, organization, management, and evaluation of a comprehensive developmental school counseling program. Martin, Carey, and DeCoster (2009) reported that by 2009, 33 states had either adopted state models with ASCA National Model features or modernized their state model to reflect the ASCA National Model content. The ASCA National Model (ASCA, 2006) was originally developed in the late 1990s as a political response to perceived threats to the school counseling profession resultant from adoption of widespread standards-based models of education across the US. Many school counselors felt threatened by standards-based education reform because it focused almost exclusively on the goal of promoting academic achievement (as opposed to more traditional counseling goals such as vocational choice, college placement, social skills development, self-knowledge development, and mental health). The ASCA National Model was developed through a blending of CDG (Gysbers & Henderson, 1988), Developmental Guidance and Counseling (Myrick, 1987), and Results-Based Guidance (Johnson & Johnson, 1991). It was intended to create a common program model that would include the essential elements of the three existing models and to align the school counseling program with the principles and practices of standards-based education. In addition, ASCA sought to create a unified model to eliminate competition among proponents of the three traditional models. Both the alignment with standards-based education and the creation of a unified model for the school counseling program were seen as necessary responses to a climate that was perceived as threatening to school counselors and the profession.

The ASCA National Model was also influenced by the accountability and evidence-based practice movements advocates who promoted measuring the results of school counseling activities and using these results to both improve the program and demonstrate its value to stakeholders. However, the approach to program evaluation advocated by the ASCA National Model is relatively simplistic compared with the approach advocated for by leaders of the comprehensive school counseling, accountability, or evidence-based practice movements (Dimmitt, Carey, & Hatch, 2007; Gysbers & Henderson, 1988; Sink, 2009).

The current third-edition ASCA National Model (ASCA, 2012) retains all of the essential features of the original model including a “cookbook” approach to model implementation and evaluation. This approach was necessary because school counselors do not typically receive adequate training in either program management or program evaluation. The ASCA National Model simplified both of these activities through the creation of templates and forms that school counselors can follow to support program management and evaluation. The ASCA National Model rooted its program evaluation approach in data-based decision-making, which had emerged as a credible practice in standards-based school planning and management in US public schools.

The ASCA National Model includes program evaluation activities in both the management and accountability components. These activities are targeted at both the whole program level and the service level. Table 2.1 describes the major ASCA National Model tools related to evaluation and their purposes.

Consistent with many data-based decision-making approaches, the ASCA National Model relies heavily on the use of existing institutional data for program management and evaluation. In order to collect short-term program results data, school counselors need to be able to construct simple pre-post questionnaires related to the specific instructional objectives of the activity. However, existing institutional data are used as measures of impact. A group counseling intervention might, for example, be evaluated in terms of pre-post

Table 2.1 ASCA National model tools related to evaluation

Tool

Purpose

School Counseling

Program Assessment

Determine the extent to which the prescribed elements of the ASCA National Model are present in the school counseling program.

Use-of-Time Assessment

Document of the amount of counselor time spent on each of the ASCA National Model’s four categories of service delivery.

Yearly Program Coals Analysis

Determine whether or not the goals for program are being met and whether or not program improvements are being made.

School Data Profile

Compile data that includes all the important student achievement measures obtainable from school data (e.g., attendance rates) so that these data can be used to identify problems that require the attention of school counselors.

Developing Action Plans

Describe the implementation and evaluation processes for specific interventions, activities, or services (e.g., curriculumbased guidance, small-group counseling interventions, and closing-the-gap interventions) that are intended to address identified problems.

Action Plan Reports

Sharing the results of the above mentioned evaluation-related activities with stakeholders including parents and teachers.

changes in participating students’ abilities to identify key concepts taught in the group, and pre-post changes in participating students’ numbers of days absent. In both cases, inspection of percentage change (e.g., percentage of students able to identify key concepts before AND after instruction) and graphic representations of change would be considered as adequate evidence for effectiveness.

BOX 2.1

The ASCA National Model includes many tools related to program evaluation.

 
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