A study published in 2007 suggested that "The ASCA National Model can help school counselors think proactively about how they can best serve the students in their schools, and it contains ideas and tools for developing comprehensive school counseling programs that use the current best practices in the field" (Dimmit, Carey, 2007, p. 227).This study will attempt to discern whether those standards have been met. If they have not, then perhaps modifications can be made. If they have then the study will have at least verified that the program was successful.
The perception in the 1980's as compared to the 1960's could be said that there were plenty of individuals during that particular time that felt that counselors had little, if anything to do with solving school education problems. Comparing this laisse faire attitude towards counselors then, with the far more intense attitude currently shown towards education in general, and counselors in specific should lead to some interesting conclusions. Further literature review will also provide a history of, and information on, the reasons for developing the ASCA model, and identify the individuals or leaders pioneering this model in the educational context.
That the National Model has had influence on school counselors and the educational environment is self-evident, especially if considering the fact that other groups have followed the lead set by the ASCA by issuing their own particular set of standards. These organizations include national, state and even local entities interested in wielding influence in educational programs. One state (Wisconsin) even issued its own National Model with the following standards:
Is comprehensive in scope
Reaches every student
Is preventative in design
Is developmental in nature
Is an integral part of the total educational program for student success
Selects measurable student competencies based on local need in the areas of academic, career, and personal/social domains
Has a delivery system that includes school guidance curriculum, individual planning, responsive services and system support
Is implemented by a credentialed school counselor
Is conducted in collaboration with all stakeholders
Uses data to drive program decisions
Monitors student progress
Measures both process and outcome results and analyzes critical data elements
Shares successes with stakeholders (Burmeister, 2007).
Comparing the two sets of standards is likely to lead to additional fodder for the educational cannon, but the real key in discovering whether programs are working or not is based not only on perception but on reality as well. There will always be methods to measure effectiveness of implementing particular programs as there will always be supporters and detractors based on those measures.
A study published in 2007 suggested that "The ASCA National Model can help school counselors think proactively about how they can best serve the students in their schools, and it contains ideas and tools for developing comprehensive school counseling programs that use the current best practices in the field" (Dimmit, Carey, 2007, p. 227). Thinking proactively is especially important in these days when students are bringing backpacks filled with weapons to school and then are using them, purchasing drugs is as easy as going to the local convenience store, and premarital sex is common.
Students today are faced with a myriad of choice and oftentimes choose a direction that can lead to trouble and despair. Many of these problems were addressed in previous generations but the need to address them again is continual. The school counselors see many of these problems on a daily basis. Additionally, problems associated with school counseling have included: "lack of basic philosophy, poor integration, insufficient student access, inadequate guidance for some students, lack of counselor accountability, and failure to utilize other resources" (Hart, Jacobi, 1992).
It was imperative therefore to develop a consistent and national approach for school counselors in order to assist their efforts in being effective. Not only are the counselors key cogs in the development of the students experiencing problems of one sort or the other, but the school counselors can also help in the area of educational studies. "In this age of educational reform, there is a need to increase academic achievement at all levels and within all programs" (Studer, Oberman, 2006, p. 82).
It seems that everyone involved in education is working for the betterment of the student, whether this actually turns out to be a good thing or not remains to be seen, but at least the concentration level is there. This same focus affects counselors as well as teachers and administrators. According to the National Model counselors can also be part of school counseling teams.
School counseling teams create Classroom Guidance Curriculum and Closing the Gap (Intentional Guidance)...
Additionally, counselors can also be used as assets in the event that any catastrophic circumstances occur at the school. The ASCA lists a number of items that counselors should be well aware of, as well as efficient in use. The list is especially helpful during times of crisis and stress and includes:
try to keep routines as normal as possible limit exposure to television and the news be honest with kids and share as much information as the can handle listen to kids fears and concerns reassure kids that the world is a good place to be rebuild and reaffirm attachments and relationships
Equally important is that the counselor stay cool and collected, remembering that the students will be looking to the adults for direction. This was certainly not applicable in previous decades since mass shootings in schools is a relatively new phenomenon. One recent study showed that, "increasing recognition of the impact of nonacademic barriers to learning has important implications for the role of school counselors" (Walsh, Barrett, DePaul, 2007, p. 370).
The number of situations that can occur in a school or educational environment gun the gamut of creativity and understanding, but today's school counselors have to be ready for almost anything. "The emergence of the "new morbidities" (e.g., sexual abuse, domestic and community violence, poverty, drug abuse, and homelessness) in family and community environments poses significant threats to children's well-being and constitutes significant barriers to learning" (Walsh et al., p. 371). According to the National Model, counselors need to be effective in eliminating those barriers to learning in order to assist every student in the quest for knowledge.
That objective is a key ingredient in the National Model, "The ASCA National Model can help school counselors think proactively about how they can best serve the students in their schools, and it contains ideas and tools for developing comprehensive school counseling programs that use the current best practices in the field" (Dimmitt, 2007, p. 228).
The National Model does take into account a number of different scenarios and addressed each individually in order to develop the counselors abilities to handle nearly every conceivable situation. The ASCA National Model takes into account four distinct categories. Those categories include; advocacy, collaboration, leadership and systemic change. The model itself is also broken down into four different areas. Those areas include; the foundation, a delivery system, a management system and accountability. The foundation is composed of a mission statement, beliefs and philosophy, and three domains which are; academic, career, personal/social. The management system is comprised of agreements, an Advisory Council, use of data and action plans, use of time and calendars. In the delivery system is the school guidance curriculum, individual student planning, responsive services and system support. Lastly, the accountability takes into account the results reports, school counselor performance evaluation and the program audit.
When perusing the components of the foundation the reader discovers that there are two primary questions being asked. Those questions are; "What do we believe about all students? And What should every student know and be able to do? The belief and philosophy of the ASCA program not only asks those two questions but agrees that every student deserves the opportunity to learn about educational options available to the and that students who are struggling deserve additional intervention" (ASCA National Model 2006).
The comprehensiveness of the model is nearly overwhelming but seems to be completely necessary. The current literature is at times ambivalent towards whether that comprehensiveness is a good thing or a bad thing. One study however takes a rather different approach to the research and corresponding literature that is derived from that research. The study showed that "the focus of research dealing with school counseling should be on establishing causal links between school counselors' interventions and outcomes rather than school counseling programs" (Brown, Trusty, 2005, p. 13). If the counselors are more apt to work with interventions and outcomes they become part of the counseling programs without necessarily focusing on establishing the programs themselves. This type of focus is likely more beneficial to students which lends itself towards being more beneficial to counselors as well because it alleviates to a small degree some of the many pressure which they are constantly under.
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