Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Transformed School Counseling: The Impact of a Graduate Course on Trainees' Perceived Readiness to Develop Comprehensive, Data-Driven Programs

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Transformed School Counseling: The Impact of a Graduate Course on Trainees' Perceived Readiness to Develop Comprehensive, Data-Driven Programs

Article excerpt

Trends indicate that the school counseling profession continues to undergo significant transformation. Training modules developed by the Education Trust and a case study approach were utilized to teach graduate students (n = 39) how to implement the ASCA National Model[R]. Pretests and posttests were administered to evaluate students' perceptions about the effectiveness of the course. Analysis indicates significant improvement in students' perceived competence (p < .003) across all dimensions except one. Results and implications for the profession are discussed.

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Current educational reform provides many examples of the transformation process that is taking place in schools. Transformation also appears to be underway within the school counseling profession (Bemak, 2000; Gysbers & Henderson, 2001; Lambie & Williamson, 2004; Lapan, 2001). From the top down to the bottom up, new ways of thinking about the profession are taking hold. At the professional level, increasing evidence points to changes in the ways many school counselors are conceptualizing and performing their jobs. Programs are becoming data driven and outcome based (Astramovich, Coker, & Hoskins, 2005; Dahir & Stone, 2003; Hayes, Nelson, Tabin, Pearson, & Worthy, 2002; Isaacs, 2003; Rowell, 2005). Practitioners are focusing on advocacy efforts and leadership (Hayes et al.; House & Hayes, 2002; House & Martin, 1998; Schwallie-Giddis, Maat, & Pak, 2003) and teaming and collaboration (Blackman, Hayes, Reeves, & Paisley, 2002; Dimmitt, 2003; Walsh, Barrett, & DePaul, 2007). In addition, conversations about the importance of closing the educational achievement gap are becoming more commonplace (House & Martin; Kaplan & Evans, 1999; Louis, Jones, & Barajas, 2001; Mallory & Jackson, 2007; Stone & Clark, 2001).

Similarly, within the graduate training ranks, many developments reflect the transformed expectations of the school counseling profession. Current training standards put forth by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACRER 2009) reflect the transformed knowledge, skill, and practice competencies that are required in order for school counselors to take central positions in guiding school improvement. These competencies were evident in CACREP's (2001) previous specialty standards for school counselors and are emphasized even more in the newly adopted 2009 standards.

Based on these trends, it would seem important to begin readying preservice school counselors to perform the duties that are increasingly being asked of their professional colleagues. However, little has been done to investigate the extent to which training approaches are successfully preparing school counseling students for these changing roles. Recognizing this, we sought to answer the following question: "What is the impact of a graduate school course on trainees' perceived readiness to implement transformed school counselor roles upon graduation?" It was hypothesized that if course content was delivered that provided students with the requisite knowledge and skills to perform these new tasks, students' perceptions about their ability to meet those expectations upon entering the profession would increase.

TRANSFORMATION TRENDS AT THE PRESERVICE TRAINING LEVEL

Changes at the practitioner level have prompted some school counselor training programs to reevaluate the methods traditionally used to prepare students for entry into the profession. Yet, while much has been written about the importance of undergoing such reevaluation, the literature is sparse on specifics. Furthermore, outcome studies designed to investigate the impact of actual curricula appear largely nonexistent. However, similar to the changes taking place within the professional ranks, it is clear that this process is also in motion within the preparation ranks.

National organizations such as the Education Trust's National Center for Transforming School Counseling (NCTSC) and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), as well as accrediting bodies like CACREP, are at the forefront of these changes. …

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