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ASCA National Model FAQs
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How can I convince my principal that the time spent implementing the ASCA National Model is a good thing and won't take me away from direct service to students?

My high school has six counselors in it. Do we need to have separate management agreements for each school counselor, or can we all be included in one?

Do I have to create a separate school counseling advisory committee? Can't I just participate in an existing school committee and bring up school counseling issues?

How do I invite stakeholders to participate in the advisory committee, and who should I invite?

How do we determine which standards and competencies to address at my school?

We finally got state funding for additional school counselors to help improve graduation rates and we were hoping to implement a more comprehensive programs. But now my principal is asking us to “do discipline.” How do I respond to him that we don’t discipline with the ASCA National Model?

When is the best time to meet with my administrator to discuss the management agreements?

What should be included in a master calendar?

What is the value of creating a weekly calendar?

I'm not much of a statistics expert; is the data portion of the ASCA National Model really all that important?

What is the difference between process, perception and results data?

What kind of data should I collect from the small groups I lead?

How do I know what classroom lessons to teach or small groups to conduct?

I am at a high school. How do I get into classrooms to deliver guidance lessons?

Foundation

How can I convince my principal that the time spent implementing the ASCA National Model is a good thing and won't take me away from direct service to students?

When school counselors are talking with principals, it is important to explain how the ASCA National Model is a program for all students. Implementing the ASCA National Model actually helps school counselors manage their time so all students are part of the school counseling program. Without a program, school counselors often provide only direct services to some students. However, with a comprehensive program, school counselors can provide direct services to all students.

As school counselors teach the preventive proactive classroom lessons to all students on a regular schedule, principals and school counselors will notice that the number of referrals decrease. For example, when school counselors are teaching anti-bulling lessons to students, principals will notice there are fewer referrals for bullying behavior. Instead of providing direct services to a few students who are bullying one another, the preventative lesson is taught in a classroom of 30-35 students to set the boundaries regarding bullying. – Judy Bowers, retired school counseling director, Tucson Unified School District, Ariz.

Management System

My high school has six counselors in it. Do we need to have separate management agreements for each school counselor, or can we all be included in one?

Every school counselor should have his/her own management agreement. The agreement should reflect the percentage of time each school counselor spends in each aspect of the delivery system as well as duties/tasks specific to each school counselor. This piece is especially critical if the campus is considering applying for RAMP recognition. The principal can meet with the entire team (pre-conference) for the sake of time, but each school counselor should have a separate agreement.

Do I have to create a separate school counseling advisory committee? Can't I just participate in an existing school committee and bring up school counseling issues?

Yes, a school counseling department should create a separate advisory committee for the school counseling program. The primary goals of establishing a separate school counseling advisory committee are to foster a collaborative partnership with community stakeholders, educate the advisory members about the school counseling program’s strengths, demonstrate the program’s unique needs and communicate the program’s outcomes. A separate school counseling advisory committee empowers the school counseling department to leverage the political and economic support that legitimizes the program’s goals and existence. When a school counseling department decides to participate in an existing school committee the potential collaboration, buy-in or commitment to achieving a shared goal is diluted by the variety of and the sheer number of goals addressed by the school committee. Participating in an existing school committee ultimately diminishes potential advocacy of a separate school counseling advisory committee. – Mark Kuranz, school counselor, J.I. Case High School, Wis.

How do I invite stakeholders to participate in the advisory committee, and who should I invite?

The question of whom to invite to be on your advisory committee truly depends on your situation and school. First, create a list of possible invitees representing a majority of the school community. This list should include parents, teachers, administrators, community members, a school board member and, depending upon the level, students. Then select the best advocates from among the group that both represent the constituency of your school and communicate well between you and your community. I suggest a committee no larger than 10-12 so you can effectively manage the group. Our committee maintains the following standard members: building principal, both school counselors, school board member, director of pupil services and school psychologist. The remaining members may vary but always include four or five parents, a teacher and a community member.

Schedule meetings that are short and sweet – no longer than 90 minutes. Have an agenda that allows for a good flow of communication, both from the school counselor and the committee. Meetings should include data sharing as well as an invitation for the committee to share ideas, ask questions and give input into programming based on the data feedback loop. If possible, offer light refreshments, and keep within your time frame. Keep minutes of meetings and share the minutes with the committee promptly after the meeting is completed. Doing this keeps a record of discussion and provides fodder for action as well as the next meeting. – Christy Clapper, Quaker Valley Middle School, Pa.

How do we determine which standards and competencies to address at my school?

The guidance curriculum in a school counseling program includes competencies from the academic, career and personal/social domains. Guidance curriculum is delivered to all students in the school through classroom lessons, and it is based on competencies specific for each grade level. If working with a K-12 school district, pull together a cadre of representatives from each grade level to select the competencies you wish to address. Use the ASCA National Standards for Students, which is found on pages 108-113 in the “ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs.” – Judy Bowers, retired school counseling director, Tucson Unified School District, Ariz.

We finally got state funding for additional school counselors to help improve graduation rates and we were hoping to implement a more comprehensive programs. But now my principal is asking us to “do discipline.” How do I respond to him that we don’t discipline with the ASCA National Model?

Do school counselors have a role in discipline? Yes, an important one; however, it’s different than the administrator’s role. Rather than complain that “Discipline is not our job,” I recommend school counselors share with their administrators the role they do have in discipline – to support the teachers and administrators by ensuring students possess the knowledge, attitudes and skills to prevent and reduce the number of referrals. This is done by providing a comprehensive program that provides prevention, intervention and postvention. Prevention includes using data to locate trends in student behavior and designing classroom guidance curriculum and other programs to address these needs. Intervention involves examining discipline data to determine which students need counseling for frequent offenses and providing in-school programs, such as anger management groups, or referrals to outside agencies as necessary. Postvention should involve school counselors meeting with students following suspensions to discuss what happened and what they could have done differently.

It’s important for school counselors to take a leadership role in explaining the best use of their time as well as the impact of these interventions mentioned above. If school counselors can show their activities are contributing to a reduction in overall referrals, it will provide leverage to support their proper role. – Trish Hatch, Ph.D., director, school counseling program, San Diego State University

When is the best time to meet with my administrator to discuss the annual agreements?

The management agreement aligns well with the annual calendar. I would recommend developing your annual calendar for the next school year before school lets out for summer. While school counselors are working on the annual calendar, they should also be reflecting on their annual agreements. If they complete their annual agreements before school gets out, it would be great to review these annual agreements with administration so administration knows what to expect in the fall. – Tammy Dodson, school counselor, Grandview High School, Colo.

What should be included in a master calendar?

The school counseling department master calendar should be a comprehensive document indicating all programming for the school counseling department. The document should be written in such a way that it is a public relations tool to show administrators, staff and parents the overview of the school counseling program for your school. It is important to include not only items from your curriculum action plans and closing-the-gap action plans but also the school counselors’ professional development workshops and conferences. Write and present the master calendar in such a way that it serves as a roadmap for new school counselors to orient themselves to the programming for your school. – Marrius Pettiford, Ph.D., school counselor, Alamance Burlington School System, N.C.

What is the value of creating a weekly calendar?

A weekly calendar is a helpful organizational tool that serves as a school counselor’s flexible schedule of activities and documents his/her use of time.  It can act as a safeguard against being assigned non-counseling duties and having others plan the school counselor’s day. Administrators can see by the schedule that the school counselor is meeting with students during lunch and, therefore isn’t available to cover cafeteria duty, for example. When posted and/or distributed to key office personnel, the schedule also provides valuable information for locating the school counselor in an emergency. The weekly calendar is a "to-do" list the school counselor uses to help stay on track, plan appointments and be professional accountable. It helps ensure the overall school counseling program maintains an appropriate balance of service in each of the delivery system components: guidance curriculum, individual student planning, responsive services and system support. Then, based on program results, adjustments can be made in the schedule to allow for different amounts of time in each area, if necessary. The value of the weekly calendar lies in how each school counselor uses it to stay focused on direct service to students and to fulfill the school counseling program's mission. – Mary Pat McCartney, school counselor, Bristow Run Elementary School (retired), Fairfax, Va.

I'm not much of a statistics expert; is the data portion of the ASCA National Model really all that important?

Yes. Data may be the most important part of the ASCA National Model! For many school counselors data has been a four-letter word. Most school counseling programs in the past didn’t train us to use data; luckily that’s changing. But not to worry. You don’t have to be a statistics expert, just willing to begin to look at the data. Data are invaluable because they can tell us what needs to be done, what’s working, what is not and what needs to be changed. Data should drive our decision making (what are our student needs?) and validate our activities and interventions (did students gain the knowledge, attitudes and skills we were trying to teach them?) Data also provide feedback on what we either need to stop doing (because it isn’t working) or need to do better. Without data, school counselors often perform what we call “random acts of guidance.” School counselors often tell us they teach lessons because “we’ve always done it this way.” But are the lessons effective? They don’t know. My advice is to start slow. Pick one thing to measure or one area on which to focus. Then give it a try. You’ll be surprised how enlightening it can be. – Trish Hatch, Ph.D., director, school counseling program, San Diego State University

What is the difference between process, perception and results data?

Of the three, school counselors are probably most familiar with process data, which for many years, was in the forefront of our focus. Process data answers the question “What services did you provide and for whom?” That is, process data provides evidence that an event or activity occurred. More recently, perception and results data have become at least as important, if not more important, than process data.

Perception data answers the question, “What do people think they know, believe or can do?” These data measure what students and others observe or perceive, knowledge gained, attitudes and beliefs held and competencies achieved. These data are often collected through pre-post surveys, tests or skill demonstration opportunities such as presentations or role play, data, competency achievement, surveys or evaluation forms. Also, others’ perception of the school counseling program’s effectiveness, efficiency and value may also be included in perception data.

Results data answer the “so what” question. The impact of an activity or program is documented through results data. These data show your program has had a positive impact on students’ ability to utilize their knowledge, attitudes and skills to effect behavior change.

Together, process, perception, and results data can paint a clear picture of how comprehensive school counseling programs are an integral and valuable part of a school's overall educational mission. – Russell A. Sabella, Ph.D., professor, Florida Gulf Coast University

What kind of data should I collect from the small groups I lead?

Collect and examine two kinds of data: perception and results data. Perception data can be collected before and after conducting the group; and results data, such as grades, can be compared before and after the group meets.

The perception data, by way of a 4 or 5 item questionnaire using a scale of 1 to 5 (1=strongly disagree to 5=strongly agree) will help you develop the goals of the group and then know whether the participants thought those goals had been met after the group. Perception data from teachers could also be collected so that you know what the teachers think before and after the group.

Example of questionnaire format:


  I complete all of my work            1            2            3            4            5


     I ask my teacher for help     1            2            3            4            5

Results data, such as grades, can be used to demonstrate that group counseling had an impact on student achievement. – Carol Kaffenberger, Ph.D., professor, George Mason University


Delivery System

How do I know what classroom lessons to teach or small groups to conduct?

If you are new to a particular school, start with having staff, parents and students complete a needs assessment survey. Base your questions on the ASCA National Model. Include the percentage of time for guidance curriculum at your level. Give examples of general subjects in the areas of academics, career development and personal social. Academics: test-taking skills, organization, learning styles, goal setting. Career: multiple intelligences, personal strengths. Personal/social: bully prevention, friendship, problem solving. For small groups, ask for referrals from teachers, students, parents. Put a blurb in the school newsletter about your groups. On your referral form include general areas that could be checked off. Examples might be divorce, assertiveness, friendship, choices, study skills. Look at the discipline referral information from the previous year.

If you have been at your school for at least one year look at the data. What did you see students for in the previous year? Problem solving, academics, family problems? Developing your guidance curriculum from this data makes your work school- or class-specific. – Shirley Pate, school counselor, Joseph Gale Elementary School, Ore.

I am at a high school. How do I get into classrooms to deliver the guidance curriculum?

With recent additions to the amount of testing occurring at the high school level, it's increasingly difficult to get teachers to give you the time you need to deliver the guidance curriculum. Here are a few ideas:

Start with the teachers you know well. Ask them if you can come into their classrooms on a Friday to do a decision-making unit with their students. Decision-making is one of the most appropriate units that can be delivered and usually within two or three lessons. Make sure to do your pre and post tests, and then share the results with the teachers. Ask the teachers if they would be willing to share the experience and the results at their next department meeting. Then ask the department chairpersons if they would share the information at the next Leadership Team meeting or School Improvement Team meeting. As we are all using data to drive our decision making, it makes sense that your data results will encourage more teachers to take advantage of the opportunity.

Develop a short PowerPoint presentation of your school counseling program to present at a faculty meeting. Include research and data to support your program. For example: if more than 20 absences is one of your school’s predictors for students dropping out of school, explain two or three interventions/strategies teachers can use. Then explain how you as the school counselor can come to their classes and follow up with a lesson on motivation, career planning and how a diploma can change earning power.

Use your Advisory Council. Explain the importance of teaching the guidance curriculum and what results could be expected. The stakeholders on your council will assist you in advertising the program, and they might make the bold decision that the curriculum will be delivered into all grades.

Advertise that you can do a lesson in 25 minutes and that you don't need the entire class period. Once teachers recognize your expertise, they'll be asking you to use the entire class period. Start small. – Mary Ellen Taft, high school counselor coordinator, Wake County Public Schools, Raleigh, N.C.

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