Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Becoming "Difference Makers": School-University Collaboration to Create, Implement, and Evaluate Data-Driven Counseling Interventions

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Becoming "Difference Makers": School-University Collaboration to Create, Implement, and Evaluate Data-Driven Counseling Interventions

Article excerpt

High school students seeking to complete a postsecondary degree must properly prepare themselves academically and financially in order to qualify and pay for college. With the use of data, school counselors can target high-achieving students from diverse backgrounds to provide equitable opportunities for all students. In this article, a school counselor along with partners from the school district and local university discuss how school counselors at a high school were able to increase academic and funding opportunities for college-bound students from low-income households. Interventions included enrolling target students in academically challenging courses and advising students in applying for financial aid and scholarships.

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As we near the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the demographics of our population are shifting with an increase in the numbers of school-age children, as well as increases in racial and ethnic diversity, to include increased numbers of children who speak a language other than English at home. The achievement gap between Caucasian and minority students, specifically African-American and Hispanic students, as well as students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds, continues to be an important and controversial educational issue (Education Trust, 2008). Recent educational statistics show a gender gap with girls as a group achieving at a higher level than boys than boys, and fewer males than females enrolling in and completing college (Clark, Lee, Goodman, & Yacco, 2008; National Center for Education Statistics, 2006).

The school counseling profession has gone through a major transformation in the past decade as reflected in the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Standards (Campbell & Dahir, 1997), the ASCA National Model[R] (2005), and the National Center for Transforming School Counseling (Education Trust, 2008), all of which emphasize the essential principle of working to help all students be successful in school. Additionally, legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act (U.S. Department of Education, 2001), a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (U.S. Department of Education, 2004) provide the legal foundation for schools to improve educational outcomes for all students (Felton, 2005; Yell, Katsiyannas, & Shiner, 2006).

Comprehensive school counseling programs (Gysbers & Henderson, 2001, 2006; Myrick, 2003b) and the ASCA National Model (2005) have provided the impetus for school counselor accountability for student achievement and educational attainment as well as an evolving vision of the role of school counselors to include leadership, advocacy, and systemic change efforts. A primary focus of the ASCA National Model is to bridge school counseling and student academic achievement through collaboration among important stakeholders such as school counselors, teachers, administrators, parents, and students (Holcomb-McCoy, 2007).

It is vital that preservice and professional school counselors be prepared to collect, analyze, and disaggregate data to demonstrate where significant educational needs exist in order to develop a program rationale and accompanying interventions that target specific individuals and groups of students to maximize their potential in school and for the future (Education Trust, 2008; Stone & Dahir, 2004). This article discusses two interventions using data in which high school counselors and their interns collaborated to highlight and create opportunities for students to further their educational achievements and aspirations. Specifically, the researchers identified low-income students who were deemed by test scores and grades to be potentially successful in college for the purpose of increasing the rigor of their academic curriculum, as well as low-income seniors to assist in accessing financial aid information and opportunities. …

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