Teacher Perceptions and Expectations of School Counselor Contributions: Implications for Program Planning and Training

Article excerpt

The researchers examined the perceptions of 23 teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools regarding necessary counseling and guidance services, how these services might best be delivered, and teachers' expectations about school counselor contributions and working relationships. The researchers also examined the resulting reflections of the graduate student interviewers regarding their future work as professional school counselors. Implications for training and practice are discussed.

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The role of the school counselor has long been debated within the field, and various models and means of accountability have been presented, tried, and evaluated over the past several decades. Comprehensive counseling and guidance programs that incorporate academic, career development, and social/emotional domains have been described in the professional literature for many years (Gysbers & Henderson, 2000; Myrick, 2003). School administrators, teachers, and parents often may view the counselor's role from their own perspectives (Burnham & Jackson, 2000). There has been a recent shift in emphasis to the perception of the school counselor as an educational leader, student advocate, and social change agent (Clark & Stone, 2000; House & Martin, 1998; Stone & Clark, 2001). This leadership role entails increased collaborative interventions with those people who are significant in the lives of students (Cooper & Sheffield, 1994).

In the vast majority of states, there has been an increased emphasis on high academic achievement for all students. Statewide competency-based testing results have become an increasingly high priority in our K-12 schools. The No Child Left Behind Act (2001) has established new math and reading testing requirements and has authorized funds for states to develop, select, and design their own tests (National Association of Secondary School Principals, 2002). Much pressure has been placed on students and educators at all levels to raise academic standards, with regard to achievement test scores as well as increased credit and more rigorous coursework requirements for graduation from high school (Quaglia, 2000). And, the "achievement gap" between minority and majority students as demonstrated by test scores and high school and college graduation rates is contributing to the call for higher academic standards and accountability measures for all students (Isaacs, 2003).

The development of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Standards (Campbell & Dahir, 1997) and the ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (ASCA, 2003a) has provided the impetus and rationale for establishing the school counseling program as an integral component of the mission of each school. The ASCA National Standards and the National Model help the profession address questions about our role as school counselors, how we fit into the overall mission of the school, and how we contribute to academic achievement of students (Schwallie-Giddis, ter Maat, & Pak, 2003). The four domains included in the National Model--foundation, delivery system, management system, and accountability--make up a comprehensive model for effective service delivery.

Experts agree that establishing meaningful connections between teachers and students in the class rooms, as well as among the students themselves, is essential for the mission of education to be successful (Dodd, 2000; Mulgan, 1996). Many educators assert that too much instructional time is taken up with classroom management issues including the lack of positive communication between teacher and student(s) (Dodd). The educators are recognizing that when schools attend to students' social and emotional skills, the academic achievement of children increases, the incidence of problem behaviors decreases, and the quality of the relationships surrounding each child improves (Cummings & Haverty, 1997; Elias et al. …