Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

A Preliminary Investigation of School Counselor Beliefs regarding Important Educational Issues

Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

A Preliminary Investigation of School Counselor Beliefs regarding Important Educational Issues

Article excerpt

The Professional School Counselor Belief Statements form used in this study was created to survey a national sample of practicing professional school counselors to determine their position on specific educational issues. Findings indicate the need for professional school counselors to examine the relationship between their personal belief systems and the service they provide to students.

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The new vision of school counseling, developed as part of the Transforming School Counseling Initiative (TSCI; The Education Trust, & MetLife Foundation, 2002), calls for professional school counselors to extend their traditional responsibilities (e.g., counseling and coordination) to embrace other roles such as educational leadership, advocacy, team building, and assessment in order to enhance educational experiences and outcomes for all students (The Education Trust, 2007). Within this reconceptualization of roles and programs, school counselors are further called upon to be system change agents and social justice advocates. The National Model developed by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA; 2005) supports this new direction and emphasizes the importance of school counselors connecting their programs to the mission of the school while promoting academic success, career preparedness, and personal/social development for all students. Central to school counselors being able to fully engage in these new directions is their capacity to examine and, as appropriate, to challenge their own beliefs about students, schools, and a variety of social/ educational issues (The Education Trust, & MetLife Foundation, 2002).

The purpose of the following study was to assess the beliefs of practicing professional school counselors regarding specific educational issues. Theoretically, this research is grounded in the principles of humanism and multiculturalism, including a focus on strengths, hope, optimism, encouragement, and the provision of appropriate and supportive environments to promote human development (Hazler, 2001). Eventually, studies in this area will be focused on understanding whether the beliefs of professional school counselors significantly affect their decisions and actions regarding students. We did not, however, evaluate the outcome or impact that such beliefs may have on the academic, career, personal, and social development of students. That determination was beyond the purpose and scope of this research. Rather, this study was intended to establish the foundation of general beliefs held by professional school counselors as a point of reference for future inquiry.

REVIEW OF SELECTED LITERATURE

The responsibility of schools to meet the needs of all of their students, especially given the current social, economic, and political contexts in the United States, is monumental yet fundamental to the purpose of education (Darling-Hammond, 2001; The Education Trust, 2007; Fine & Weis, 2003; Gordon, Della Piana, & Keleher, 2000; Kozol, 1991; McNeil, 2000). All school personnel--administrators, teachers, staff, counselors, and coaches--share the school's responsibility to all students (The Education Trust, 2007). However, few school personnel have direct access to all students and may, therefore, have limited perspectives on the needs of the student population as a whole.

In this regard, professional school counselors are in a unique position to positively influence student outcomes (ASCA, 2005). The role of the professional school counselor is to help all students realize their potential by assessing the particular needs of students and designing an academic structure for their optimal educational and social development (Baker & Gerler, 2004). The TSCI, funded by the DeWitt Wallace/Reader's Digest Foundation, describes school counseling as a profession focusing on improving educational experiences and outcomes for all students, removing barriers that prevent such improvement, increasing access and equity, and nurturing high aspirations (Paisley & Hayes, 2002). …

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