Models and Ideas for Working with Stakeholders on the Evaluation

The main recommendation for stakeholder involvement found in the ASCA National Model (ASCA, 2012) is that school counselors share the evaluation findings with the school counseling program advisory council. This recommendation is also found in the evaluation literature and contained in the JCSEE Program Evaluation Standards (Yarbrough et al., 2010). As we argue, however, stakeholders can have much stronger involvement in the evaluation of the school counseling program. As has been suggested, stakeholders can be involved in the evaluation processes and tasks, including (1) providing feedback for the development of a program logic model, (2) development of evaluation questions, (3) development and implementation of data collection instruments and protocols, (4) data analysis, and (5) providing feedback on evaluation results and recommendations. In short, there is no limit to the possibilities for stakeholder involvement.

Organizing stakeholders to effectively work on the evaluation is as important as the actual work. Well-organized stakeholder groups will help make the evaluation work more effective and efficient. Stakeholders will more likely feel that their involvement is valued and be confident that you, as the school counselor and facilitator of the evaluation, have a plan and that this plan is based on your experience and professional judgment.

Time, resources, and evaluation professional development needs are constraints that must be dealt with at any level of stakeholder involvement. Meetings to address evaluation tasks, not to mention your own time thinking through how best to involve stakeholders; labor to carry out the tasks; and training stakeholders regarding the conduct of evaluation are features of the work that you’ll want to pay particular attention. Thus, as you plan your evaluation and incorporate the work of stakeholders, be mindful of the aforementioned constraints and develop a plan that makes sense.

We suggest there are three models for organizing the work of stakeholders. For some school counseling programs, which model to choose will be obvious. For others, some thought may be needed to make this determination, as the constraints of time, resources, and professional development must be accounted for. Each model is described below.

Model 1: Advisory Council

Perhaps the most straightforward way to organize the evaluation-oriented work of stakeholders is through the advisory council. The ASCA National Model recommends 6-20 individuals. Given the school community context, small, rural communities, for example, perhaps this configuration is sufficient for including all key stakeholders. Organizing the actual evaluation-oriented activities to be performed by the committee is a task for the school counselor.

Model 2: Ancillary Stakeholder Groups to the Advisory Council

In urban settings with large populations and diverse school communities, it may not be possible to obtain broad stakeholder representation through the advisory council by itself. In working on an evaluation in a fairly large community, Donaldson (2007) suggests up to 4 or 5 stakeholder groups with approximately 6 members each worked well to ensure broad stakeholder involvement. Expanding on this suggestion, we argue that the precise numbers are not what matters here. The central idea is to add sufficient numbers of subgroups to ensure broad stakeholder representation and to configure each group with a workable number of participants. Of course, the more subgroups, the more work will be needed to facilitate stakeholder interaction and articulate the work of each group with the advisory council. The use of ancillary groups, however, is a reasonable and common way in which to include stakeholders in a participatory and interactive manner to address the school counseling program evaluation.

Model 3: District-Wide School Counseling Program Evaluation

Some school districts may view each school counseling program as a component of a district-wide program. As such, the evaluation of each school’s program would be part of a larger district evaluation effort. Representation from each school would be needed. Attention would also be needed to ensure that a district-wide evaluation in part meets stakeholder needs from your school. While a process like this could seem daunting to organize and facilitate, some efficiencies could be obtained with district school counselors working together. The district school counseling program director is likely providing some direction. And perhaps some stakeholder groups have a stake in more than one school program.

Each of the three models are presented in a straightforward manner for instructional purposes. Know that there are other possibilities that could be employed that are revisions to the models in some way. We do not advocate one over the other. Using each or some combination depends on the context in which your program resides. This includes the number and kinds of stakeholders for your program and the constraints you have to work with in developing a participatory evaluation approach that includes stakeholders. Context also includes the decision to include stakeholders in one or more components of the actual evaluation. Making determinations about the aforementioned contextual factors will provide the basis for selecting or developing the optimum organization for stakeholder involvement in the evaluation.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >