The School Counselor and Academic Development
(Adopted 2017; revised 2023)
School counselors deliver school counseling programs that enhance student growth in three domain areas: academic, career, and social/emotional development. As a part of that program, school counselors implement strategies and activities to help all students enhance their academic development – the mindsets and behaviors students need to maximize their ability to learn - while recognizing that growth in all three domains is necessary for students to be successful now and later in life.
Federal initiatives such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (2015) and state education accountability plans have stressed academic achievement as a measure of school success. As certified/licensed educators who improve student success for ALL students, school counselors align their school counseling program with the vision, mission, and goals of the school and district, emphasizing academic achievement. School counselors contribute to the educational and academic outcomes of the school by enhancing student engagement and performance (Akos et al., 2019; Shi & Brown, 2020) through designing, implementing and assessing school counseling programs (ASCA, 2019).
School counseling programs use data and data disaggregation to understand student needs and provide appropriate interventions. School counselors advocate and work to remove systemic barriers to ensure all students have the opportunity to achieve their academic goals at all grade levels reflecting their abilities and academic interests (Novakovic et al., 2020). School counselors use data-informed practices to ensure that all students can access appropriate, rigorous, relevant coursework and experiences. Because of their unique position within a school and their unique training, school counselors support students facing academic difficulties, mental health issues, family and social concerns, as well as career exploration and course planning to make school relevant.
School counselors play a critical role in ensuring schools provide a safe, caring environment and that students attain the necessary mindsets and behaviors to advance their academic achievement. School counselors work collaboratively with partners to ensure equity, access and academic success of all students (ASCA, 2019).
The School Counselor's Role
In their efforts to enhance student academic development, school counselors:
- Work collaboratively with school staff to develop a safe, caring and inclusive school culture (Ratts & Greenleaf, 2018)
- Design, implement and assess a school counseling program informed by disaggregated data identifying student needs
- Deliver information to students and teachers on best practices to attain mindsets and behaviors (i.e., learning strategies, self-management skills, social skills) for student success
- Provide relevance to students’ academic effort and educational pursuits by helping them understand the connection between school and the world of work, assisting them in career planning and career-related goal setting
- Work with administrators, teachers and other school staff to create a school environment encouraging academic success and striving to one’s full potential (Oehrtman, 2022; Oehrtman & Dollarhide, 2022)
- Encourage students to engage in challenging coursework and work to address and remove barriers to access the most rigorous coursework appropriate for each student
- Use disaggregated data to identify and address inequitable practices
- Provide opportunities for students to:
- Enhance their belief in development of whole self and ability to succeed
- Develop a positive attitude toward work and learning
- Make decisions informed by evidence, considering others’ perspectives and recognizing personal bias
- Develop long and short-term academic goals
- Demonstrate self-motivation and self-direction for learning
- Demonstrate positive, respectful and supportive relationships with students and adults (ASCA, 2021)
- Work to establish student opportunities for academic remediation as needed
- Emphasize family/caregiver-community-school relationships in addressing academic needs
SummarySchools are evaluated on student outcomes, especially academic achievement, and school counselors play a critical role in ensuring schools create an environment conducive to academic success. School counselors provide a school counseling program that helps all students enhance their academic development to achieve and exceed high academic standards while recognizing that growth in all three domains of academic, career, and social/emotional development is necessary for students to be successful now and later in life.
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