February 2018

Raising Involvement and Tracking Completion

By Dr. Summer Martin
I am proud to serve as the new president-elect of the Lone Star State School Counselor Association. This is my 13th year as a school counselor and my 10th year as a lead counselor here in Keller. My husband, Jason, and I have been married for 17 years and have two children, Kyle (tomorrow he turns 14 – eek!) and Kadence (she prefers “Kady” and she’s a sassy 10 year old). We are supporters of adoption and foster care as our family was built through adopting from the Texas foster care system. As a member of the ASCA Position Statements Committee, I am currently working with other counselors around the country to develop a statement in support of students in the foster care system. On the side, I’m an adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University and Texas Christian University where I get to teach future counselors – something I absolutely love! My calling in life is to help other counselors in my school, my district and my beloved state of Texas.
 
If your job is like mine, you’re already working on next year. Planning ahead is great, but we also have to make sure our seniors are ready to go off into the world of college, technical schools, military and the workforce. As we plan for the next year, we start to think about how we can increase the college and career readiness at our schools.
 
One of the most inspiring things about being a school counselor working with a student on their future. There is nothing quite like seeing a spark in a student's eye when talking about a future they can envision. With all we have to do every day, how can we implement new ideas without losing precious time with our students?
 
The easiest (and cheapest) way, we have found, to increase the level of activity in college and career readiness activities is by using our Twitter page. Instead of simply posting information on the website, we send out a tweet with the information. Sometimes it’s hard to navigate school websites and many people do not want to spend time searching to find information. Using a platform that instantly gives students and parents the information has increased our participation in all activities. We also tweet out reminders about application deadlines, ACT and SAT test dates, parent events at our school and college representatives visiting our campus.
 
Although not free, by far the best way to track data for college and career readiness in your district is using the National Student Clearinghouse’s Student Tracker Program to track your students after high school. By digging into the data, we found that we do not have a college-going problem but a college-completion problem. Our students go to college in high numbers, but their rate of completion is slow or they do not finish at all. By using the disaggregated data from the National Student Clearinghouse, we have recognized our real college and career readiness needs. After presenting the information to my principal, we have changed to focus on college-completion with our staff, parents and students. We share the data – both good and “needs improvement” – so we can show how the school counselors are implementing a comprehensive counseling program to impact the college and career readiness of our students.
 
Please share the ways you impact college and readiness with the LSSSCA community on our Twitter page, @LSSSCA1! Let’s share the great ideas you have and we’ll have an even greater impact on all students across Texas.