Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselors as Resource Brokers: The Case for Including Teacher Efficacy in Data-Driven Programs

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselors as Resource Brokers: The Case for Including Teacher Efficacy in Data-Driven Programs

Article excerpt

The term resource broker is offered to assist counselors with data-driven programs. A resource broker is a school professional who functions as an active force to identify, provide access to, and ensure the utilization of resources that enhance student development. A case is presented here for school counselors, as resource brokers, to include teacher efficacy in program assessments when data show inequities in student access to rigorous academic classes.

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The time has come for school counselors to serve as resource brokers. In the context of this manuscript, the term resource broker refers to a professional within the school system who functions as an active force to identify, gain access to, and ensure the utilization of resources that enhance student development. Resources, in turn, refers to individual and institutional factors that can positively influence student development and learning. For example, an individual factor might be a teacher's belief that she can adequately perform her designated roles and responsibilities. Examples of institutional factors might be the means through which schools positively influence teachers to implement their roles and responsibilities.

This approach is useful when one considers the new focus on school counseling program activities, which must now be data-driven (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2003). According to ASCA, "School counselors must show that each activity implemented as part of the school counseling program is developed from a careful analysis of student needs, achievement and related data" (p. 49). For example, achievement-related data might include such data fields as course-taking patterns, discipline referrals, and homework completion rate. In this article, we focus on how measuring one achievement-related field can point to the need to collect data in another, and how, in such instances, the concept of the school counselor-as-resource broker has practical utility for school counselors.

One premise of a data-driven approach is that an analysis of course-taking patterns might, for example, show that one group of students disproportionately enrolls in more advanced-placement or rigorous courses when compared with other groups. Additionally, once counseling teams have determined that there are discrepancies in course-taking patterns among student groups, teams must "thoughtfully consider those factors which are creating barriers in those [course-taking patterns] areas" (ASCA, 2003, p. 52). One barrier preventing students from taking rigorous courses might be school policies that "don't promote student achievement or equal access to a rigorous curriculum" (ASCA, p. 53). In addition to school policy, we can anticipate other barriers associated with course-taking patterns. For instance, teachers might be resistant to the idea of policy changes that would encourage more students to take their academically rigorous classes.

How might teacher resistance be understood so that we can know what additional data (besides course-taking patterns and school policies) to collect? Knowledge of teacher efficacy is one way to gain insight into such resistance. Teacher efficacy is the degree to which teachers believe that they can effectively teach all students in their classes. Below we discuss how knowledge of teachers' beliefs about their ability to teach students can be used to increase the likelihood of equal access to academically rigorous courses for all students.

Teacher efficacy is one of the most commonly researched constructs in education, and for nearly three decades it has been shown to have a positive relationship with student academic achievement (Armor et al., 1976; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk Hoy, & Hoy, 1998). Thus, measurement of teacher efficacy would provide counselors with one aspect of teachers' needs pertaining to teaching new students in rigorous courses. …

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