Professional Development Schools: New Opportunities for Training School Counselors. (Innovative Methods)

Article excerpt

The authors examine how counselor educators can become involved in professional development schools to create enhanced training opportunities for school counseling internship students. The benefits of collaboration between university and public school faculties are explored, and research opportunities are discussed. Counselor educators' expertise in research and program evaluation, combined with school counselors' pragmatic experience in dealing with real-life issues, may promote best practices in the schools and improved training for school counselors and can set the stage for collaboration as an educational team at the preservice level.

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Many schools and universities across the United States are forming partnerships to work together in a new way through professional development schools (El-Amin, Cristol, & Hammond, 1999). Professional development schools have a dual purpose: to improve teacher preservice programs and to further public school reform efforts (Conrath & Hillkirk, 1998). The professional development school (PDS) concept is intended to connect theory and practice in education in a reciprocal, beneficial relationship (Grisham et al., 1999). Thus, educators in partnership schools and universities help preservice interns learn the profession, and preservice interns can bring new ideas, points of view, and practices into classrooms.

The partnerships are designed to be mutually beneficial to universities, schools, and other related national professional organizations. They are intended to improve learning for K-12 students, educator preparation, and curriculum design. Furthermore, they have created an impetus for a new discipline of academic professional education and for faculty members who are equally at home in the university and public school classroom. The professional development school is the designated site for much of the education of prospective teachers, counselors, specialists, and administrators (Holmes Group, 1995). Thus, university professors can teach and model effective educational practices to their students as well as to public school educators and, in turn, can learn what is happening in the "real world" from preservice and in-service educators (Grisham et al., 1999). In addition, they can conduct research with their university students as well as in the schools and can use the results to help improve teaching and learning for students at all levels.

Such partnerships between universities and public schools have resulted from the educational reform movement, that has taken place during the past two decades, to restructure and renew education. In the 1980s, the publication of A Nation at Risk: The Imperative of Educational Reform (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), the organization of the Holmes group (now known as the Holmes partnership), and the Carnegie Forum provided a base of support for such university and school collaboration.

Counselors have traditionally been left out of the school reform movement (House & Martin, 1998), but as we embrace the new millennium, the school counseling profession is taking stock of where it stands currently as a profession regarding educational reform and the counseling profession's potential contributions to student achievement (Clark & Stone, 2000). The current movement by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) to establish school counseling standards of practice is furthering the effort to bring counselors to the heart of the educational reform movement (Clark & Stone, 2000). Urban school reform efforts have been fragmented in their approaches to preparing administrators, school counselors, and teachers. Such training programs have been parallel to one another rather than taking a collaborative and integrative approach (Bowers & Evans, 2000).

With the development and implementation of ASCA's National Standards for School Counseling Programs (Campbell & Dahir, 1997), there has been a growing recognition of and movement toward comprehensive, developmental guidance and counseling programs that will ensure that all students have equal access to quality academic programs and accompanying support in their educational, career, and personal/social development. …