Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselor Program Choice and Self-Efficacy: Relationship to Achievement Gap and Equity

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselor Program Choice and Self-Efficacy: Relationship to Achievement Gap and Equity

Article excerpt

This article reports the results of a national study of American School Counselor Association members (N = 860). Information includes level of school counselor self-efficacy, type of program, status of achievement gap, and equity in their schools. School counselors with higher self-efficacy were more aware of achievement gap data, and school counselors who indicated a program approach and high self-efficacy were more likely to report narrowing achievement gaps. One fifth reported no awareness of achievement gap data. Implications for school counselors are included.


A variety of changes have occurred in school counseling in the past decade. The American School Counselor Association's (ASCA) National Standards (Campbell & Dahir, 1997) and ASCA National Model[R] (2005) have been developed; a stronger push to link the results of school counseling programs to the mission of the school has been established; and advocacy for multicultural competency and impacting educational equity have been at the forefront of educational reforms. In their most general terms, these developments have resulted in a need for school counselors to understand what impact their programs have on student achievement levels and equity.

In 1997, the National Standards were proposed in the areas of academic, career, and personal/social development (Campbell & Dahir, 1997). Many states, and many individual school systems, have developed their own standards that may be used in lieu of the National Standards, but all standards-based school counseling programs focus on the results that the program has on the student (ASCA, 2005; Campbell & Dahir). The ASCA National Model was developed in 2003, presenting an organizational model grounded in a foundation tied to the school mission and needs assessments, and utilizing delivery and management systems to organize and evaluate services. Leadership, advocacy, systemic change, and collaboration are themes that surround and integrate all school counseling programmatic efforts (ASCA, 2005). The theme of leadership, specifically, is described as "leaders who are engaged in systemwide change to ensure student success .... School counselors promote student success by closing the existing achievement gap whenever found among students of color, poor students or underachieving students and their more advantaged peers" (ASCA, p. 24). Thus, school counselors are encouraged to be involved in school and system efforts leading toward academic equity, which remains a national educational concern.

Although the ASCA National Standards and the ASCA National Model have been introduced and implemented in many schools across the country, in addition to previously established school counseling programs such as the comprehensive guidance and counseling program introduced in the 1970s (Gysbers & Henderson, 1994), no research has yet been conducted to determine if schools with school counselors who implement different types of programs have different impacts on their students. Specifically, because the ASCA National Model includes a more direct pronouncement regarding the achievement gap than previous program types, it might be expected that school counselors who utilize the ASCA National Model work in schools where the achievement gap is closing.

Despite a focus on closing the achievement gap in recent legislation known as No Child Left Behind (U.S. Department of Education, 2001), a variety of national statistics still indicate gaps by ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status (SES). The high school dropout rate among 16- to 24-year-olds in 2005 was lower than in previous years, but was 6% for Caucasian students, 10.4% for African American students, and 22.4% for Hispanic/Latino students (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2008a). The dropout rate among young men continues to be greater than among young women: The national average in 2006 was 9.3% overall but was 10. …

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