Types of Data to Measure School Counseling Program Success

By Eric C. Dafoe | October 2018

As school counselors, we are entrusted with the tremendous task of attending to the academic, career and social/emotional growth of every student in our school. This responsibility entails the actions and decision surrounding how we develop, create, execute, and modify our comprehensive school counseling program through the ASCA National Model framework. Essential to the strength of this process is the use of data to evaluate how we intervene as school counselors. Data provides us with information we need to demonstrate how we are effective as school counselors in our direct student services. I will briefly share categories of success data that best practice school counseling employs and include examples of each type of data to support a comprehensive school counseling program. Explore the resources I’ve noted in my reference list to develop a more complete understanding of measuring the success of your school counseling program.
When evaluating interventions through the use of data-driven decision-making, we conceptualize our data in three primary categories: process, perception and outcome data. Process data is descriptive in nature and communicates what happened during the intervention and who was impacted. This type of data includes but is not limited to the number of students who participated; when the intervention occurred; and the duration, frequency and intensity of the intervention. One example of process data is the number of students attending a study skills group, with how often the group meets and the duration of the meetings.
Perception data is meaningful because it provides answers to how students are different because of the school counselor’s intervention. Best practices for perception data do not focus on whether the student thinks the time spent together was beneficial or enjoyable. The ASCA National Model Implementation Guide identifies robust questions for assessing useful perception data, including “I believe,” “I know” and “I can” type questions, which focus on the attitudes, knowledge and skills that make up the ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success. Examples include collecting data before and after the intervention using questions like, “I believe my study habits and time spent studying affects my grade on tests,” “I know what I need to do to help me do my best on a test” and “I can create a plan with steps for what I need to do to do well on tests.” One way to structure perception data is by using a Likert scale.
Outcome data best highlights the results of your intervention because it relates to how the intervention affected identified goals, areas of growth and achievement gaps. This may include attendance numbers, number of students struggling academically, absenteeism in the school or discipline referrals. An example of a measure of outcome data would be the number of students who receive more than one failing grade, then again measuring that number after those students attend a semester-long study skills group. Outcome data is used to assess changes to the data upon finishing the intervention to provide an understanding of the intervention’s impact. This data serves as quantitative support to show student improvement during the course of the intervention, allowing more effective advocacy for the school counseling program.
Intentionality about how to use data and collecting data from a variety of perspectives allows us to identify the goals of our program, track student change, assess our program’s interventions and demonstrate the positive outcomes of our school counseling program.
Eric C. Dafoe, Ph.D., is a Certified School Counselor, NCC, at the University of Wyoming.
  • American School Counselor Association. (2018). The role of the school counselor Alexandria, VA: Author. Retrieved from https://www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/Careers-Roles/RoleStatement.pdf
  • American School Counselor Association. (2012). ASCA National Model: A framework for school counseling programs (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Author.
  • American School Counselor Association. (2014). ASCA Mindsets & behaviors for student success: K-12 college- and career-readiness standards for every student. Alexandria, VA: Author.
  • American School Counselor Association. (2016). ASCA national model implementation guide: Foundation, management and accountability. Alexandria, VA: Author.
  • Kaffenberger, C., & Young, A. (2018). Making data work: An ASCA national mode publication. (4th ed.). Alexandria, VA: American School Counselor Association.