School Counseling Program Evaluation Beyond the National Model
Up to this point, our discussion of school counseling and program evaluation has focused a good deal on the ASCA National Model (ASCA, 2012) because of the prominence of this model within the profession. While the ASCA National Model is currently the dominant model in the US (Martin, Carey, & DeCoster, 2009), it is not the only model for the organization and management of school counseling programs. In a recent analysis of US school counseling policy research, Carey and Martin (2017, p. 411) questioned whether the ASCA National Model is appropriate across the wide range of school contexts in the US and suggested that “A revisioning of school counseling in the US is necessary in order to establish an approach to practice that fits with current education policy objectives and models of schooling; and that frees practice from the historical constraints that limit possibilities for development and change.” Several alternative models of school counseling have been recently developed (Astramovich, Hoskins, & Bartlett, 2010; McMahon, Mason, Daluga-Guenther, & Ruiz, 2014; McMahon, Lee, & Goodnough, 2011). While it is prudent at this point to learn the specific program evaluation practices advocated by the ASCA National Model, it is also wise to develop a deeper level competence in program evaluation. Though program models will continue to evolve and change, often in unpredictable ways, one thing is certain, school counselors will always need to engage in program evaluation to improve their services and prove their value.
School counseling is best considered to be a distinct program within schools that delivers a broad range of services to support the academic, personal/social, and career development of students. School counselors need to be able to evaluate the program as a whole and its constituent interventions, services, and activities. Information from program evaluation is needed to improve the program and to demonstrate its value to stakeholders.
The ASCA National Model (2012), which is the most influential current program model, was heavily influenced by data-based decision-making approaches to school management and includes many program evaluation-related components. ASCA National Model program evaluation practices have limitations that can be overcome through the addition of best practices from the field of evaluation.
The school counseling profession suggests that all school counselors need to be engaged in program evaluation and have the necessary competencies to do so. CACREP program accreditation standards and state licensure requirements endorse the importance of school counselors being competent in program evaluation. However, both need some development and revision in order to maximize their abilities to promote skill development and quality assurance.
At this point in the development of the profession, it is wise for school counselors to learn the specific program evaluation practices advocated by the ASCA National Model, and to also develop a deeper level competence in program evaluation that will serve them well in the future.
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