Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

The Development of a Self-Assessment Instrument to Measure a School District's Readiness to Implement the ASCA National Model

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

The Development of a Self-Assessment Instrument to Measure a School District's Readiness to Implement the ASCA National Model

Article excerpt

The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs is a powerful approach to the organization and management of school counseling programs. The ASCA National Model[R] connects school counseling programs to educational reform initiatives, emphasizes data-based management and accountability processes, reiterates school counseling's role in enhancing student achievement, and establishes a framework for school counselors to operate effectively within standards-based educational environments. Implementation of the ASCA National Model is expected to lead to demonstrable benefits for students and to increased recognition of the integral role of school counseling programs in supporting student achievement. This article discusses a self-assessment instrument that can be used to help public school counselors, school counseling program directors, principals, superintendents, and school board members identify the extent to which a school district is ready to implement the National Model.

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The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (ASCA, 2003) is a powerful approach to the organization and management of school counseling programs. The ASCA National Model is an explicit effort to link school counseling programs with standards-based educational reform approaches and to emphasize the importance of enhanced student academic achievement as a program outcome.

The ASCA National Model shares several features with the Comprehensive Developmental Guidance Program Model (Gysbers & Henderson, 2000) that has been in existence for more than 30 years. In both models, school counseling is conceived of as a developmental program with a delivery system that is intentionally structured to serve all students well. School counseling activities are delivered in four formats: guidance curriculum, individual student planning, responsive services, and system support.

The ASCA National Model also has some unique features and some features that differ by degree or emphasis from the Comprehensive Developmental Guidance Program Model. For example, the ASCA National Model emphasizes the use of data-based planning and decision-making, the use of the ASCA National Standards (Dahir & Campbell, 1997) in formulating student learning objectives goals, and the use of agreements, action plans, and calendars in program management. In addition, the ASCA National Model calls for increased accountability by means of annual results reports distributed to key constituencies, school counselor performance evaluation systems aligned with standards for practice, and periodic program audits to guide future planning and improve student outcomes.

Because of the stronger emphasis on accountability and the use of data, school counseling programs that have a fully implemented comprehensive developmental guidance program may have to make some changes in order to become a National Model program. Programs that have not yet implemented the Comprehensive Developmental Guidance Program Model are likely to have even more work to do. The ASCA National Model suggests allowing 3 to 5 years for the transition to the new model, with clear guidelines for prioritizing the changes being made.

The effort will be well worth it, for implementing the ASCA National Model is anticipated to lead to demonstrable benefits for students and to recognition of the integral role of school counseling programs in enhancing student achievement. To facilitate ASCA National Model implementation, we have developed a self-assessment instrument to help public school counselors, school counseling program directors, principals, superintendents, and school board members identify the extent to which a school district is ready to implement the ASCA National Model and to identify program areas that will need to be addressed to ensure successful implementation.

INSTRUMENT DEVELOPMENT

The literature on implementing comprehensive developmental guidance programs (Gysbers, 1990; Gysbers & Henderson, 2000; Gysbers, Hughey, Starr, & Lapan, 1992; Hargens & Gysbers, 1984; Lehr & Sumarah, 2002) was used as the basis for understanding factors that promote successful transitions to a new school counseling program. …

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