October 2018

Leadership Letter: Success Perspectives

By Amy Prouty
Student success measures… when these words are spoken in academics, most people tend to think of graduation rates, matriculation rates, promotion to the next grade level – even formal assessments like SAT and ACT scores, ASVAB score, DIBELS tests, pre- and post-tests, and more. All of these definitions do measure students’ success. But as counselors, how do we measure student success?
 
We can say we play a part in a students’ academic success using the above assessments by providing students with soft skills such as goal setting, organization, time management, adaptability, perseverance, self-control and testing anxiety management. However, we know that there are countless other ways we can measure the success of students. Ask any school counselor you will often hear that success isn't always measured in tangible scores or rates like our educational counterparts; it is based on those intangible measures. The kindergartener who used to cry at the door for her parents who can now walk (or skip) to class with her friends. Or the anxiety-ridden student who is usually a frequent flyer in your office (or crying in the hall, removed from class) who saw you every week to work on coping skills now shares how they can manage and control their own situations using skills they have acquired. Maybe it's the shy or new student you get to break out of their shell and smile at you in the hall, or the class blurter who has been working on impulse-control and learns to manage class disruptions. Or the explosive student who learned some calming techniques to be able to remain in the classroom learning environment, or the student who has no idea what life after school will hold but in working with their counselor can now articulate not only options for their future but what high school courses will help them be successful.
 
These student success measures are not as easy to quantify as the aforementioned assessments, but they are equally important to our students’ ultimate success. It is these intangibles that students work on with their school counselors and, with time, show growth, acquisition of new skills and success that also can help them succeed in the academic arena.
 
As school counselors, we not only work with students to ensure success but we also work with our school staff. As we advocate for students, collaborate with teachers, train staff in topics from self-care to trauma-informed classrooms to techniques to use with students in the classroom, and – most important – keep ourselves up to date with our own professional development, we know that all of this work also contributes to student success measures. Our work is vital to our students and their ultimate success, so keep on pushing students to succeed – no matter the way in which we evaluate it!
 
The measurement of student and school success can come in various ways. We create individual and department goals and most of us have a formal evaluation, whether the state RANDA evaluation wherein we create our student learning outcomes (SLO’s) or a district-specific evaluation to gauge how we are serving students. Some school counselors are following the ASCA National Model and show their success with implementing a comprehensive school counseling program by applying for the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) designation. If this is you, we applaud your hard work, and if you are thinking about applying for RAMP, we encourage you to use the CSCA RAMP support to assist you in the endeavor. All of these measures create our most fundamental outcome: success for students!
 
Contact Amy Prouty, CSCA past president 2018-2019, at aprouty@coloradoschoolcounselor.org.