Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

A Survey of Assessment and Evaluation Activities of School Counselors

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

A Survey of Assessment and Evaluation Activities of School Counselors

Article excerpt

How often school counselors performed various assessment and evaluation activities is reported. The results provided the rationale for development of the Competencies in Assessment and Evaluation for School Counselors, a joint project of the American School Counselor Association and the Association for Assessment in Counseling (ASCA & AAC, 2000).

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Assessment has been associated with professional school counseling, from the guidance as science of vocational choice movement of the early 20th century to current trends in comprehensive or developmental school counseling. During this time period, a number of approaches to school counseling were advocated, each prescribing specific counselor skills in assessment.

Accordingly, school counselors have been challenged to select and apply those assessment strategies that have the potential to assist them in performing their professional responsibilities. With the Parsonian Model (Shertzer & Stone, 1981), counselors used informal measures to identify career choices that were congruent with student interests, temperaments, skills, and abilities. In accordance with the Guidance as Distribution and Adjustment Model (Shertzer & Stone), the outcomes of assessment were initially used to help students with curriculum choices and the transition to the world of work. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Clinical Practice Movement (Shertzer & Stone) required that counselors be familiar with informal diagnostic measures as an essential skill for therapeutic intervention. When the Constellation of Services Model (Shertzer & Stone) was introduced in the wake of Sputnik in the late 1950s, school counselors were asked to ensure that students' academic abilities, especially in science, were fully assessed and realized. This resulted in reliance on standardized testing, especially aptitude and intelligence measures, as predictors of academic achievement. The current emphasis on developmental school counseling has challenged counselors to become more adept at designing, developing and conducting comprehensive needs assessments to determine the focus of counseling programs as well as conducting formative and summative evaluations of program effectiveness.

According to a survey of 390 certified counselors by Sampson, Vacc, and Loesch (1998), work behaviors related to assessment were considered fundamental to the general practice of counseling. Similarly, training in good test-use practices was one of three competencies Tymofievich and Leroux (2000) reported that counselors must use for adult assessments at personal and career intake.

In the coordination role, as noted in the ASCA Role Statement (ASCA, 1990), school counselors engage in activities such as the coordination of student needs assessment or the interpretation of standardized tests. School counselors must be adept at tailoring tests and other, less formal, measures to fit the problems that student clients present (Baker, 2000; Gibson, Mitchell, & Basile, 1993; Hitchner & Tifft-Hitchner, 1987; Stone & Bradley, 1994). At the programmatic level, it has been suggested that school counselors examine the congruence between how they actually function and stakeholder demands for counseling programs and services (Gysbers & Henderson, 2000; Trotter, 1991; Wilgus & Shelly, 1988). In addition, school counselors must be skilled at making informed choices regarding the application of more formal assessments at the school systems level. An overall perspective, as stated by Baker, "Without basic knowledge of measurement principles, test users are navigating without compasses" (p. 278).

Previous research has found that both school teachers (Schafer & Lissitz, 1987; Stiggins, 1995) and school administrators (Trevisan, 1999) lack the measurement and assessment training and skills needed to meet their professional responsibilities. Not surprisingly, they often turn to school counselors for assessment and evaluation information and technical assistance. …

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