Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

A Broader and Bolder Approach to School Reform: Expanded Partnership Roles for School Counselors

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

A Broader and Bolder Approach to School Reform: Expanded Partnership Roles for School Counselors

Article excerpt

This article describes a broader, bolder approach to education reform aimed at addressing the social and economic disadvantages that hinder student achievement. Central principles of this approach to reform include the provision of supports such as early childhood and preschool programs, after-school and summer enrichment programs, parent education programs, and school-based or school-linked health services. The authors discuss expanded partnership roles and three priority areas for school counselors to meet the needs of students and address the social, economic, and other barriers that hinder students' learning." (a) engage families and community members in their children's education, (b) partner to provide high-quality P-12 enrichment and out-of-school programs, and (c) collaborate to connect children to health services.

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The evidence that many students are inadequately served in schools throughout the United States, especially in high-poverty, high-minority communities, is abundantly clear. What is less clear is why so many of the policies that have been pursued by the federal government (e.g., No Child Left Behind) and major foundations (e.g., Bill and Melinda Gates) have proven so unsuccessful in producing improvement in a greater number of schools. There is growing evidence that part of the reason for the failure of past reforms is that they do not adequately address the multilayered challenges students contend with that invariably impact the schooling process (Adelman & Taylor, 1997, 2002; Teale & Scott, 2010). A vast body of evidence shows that student achievement is affected by a variety of social, psychological, and environmental factors (Coleman et al., 1966; Rothstein, 2004). There is also evidence that merely responding to student needs by focusing on school improvement alone will not guarantee improved learning outcomes (Noguera, 2003, 2008).

In this article, we describe a broader, bolder approach to education reform (Broader, Bolder Approach Task Force, 2008) aimed at addressing the social and economic disadvantages that hinder academic achievement. Central principles of this approach to reform include the provision of supports such as early childhood and preschool programs, after-school and summer enrichment programs, parent education programs, and school-based or school-linked health services. We discuss expanded partnership roles and three priority areas within this framework for school counselors to meet the needs of students, especially poor and minority students, and to address the social, economic, and other barriers that hinder students' learning: (a) engage families and community members in their children's education, (b) partner to provide high-quality P-12 enrichment and out-of-school programs, and (c) collaborate to connect children to health services.

There has been no shortage of educational reform attempts to combat persistent achievement gaps, alarming rates of high school dropout, and an array of educational issues that plague schools that poor and minority students attend (Noguera, 2006). A growing body of research highlights the need for schools to address the relationship between the academic challenges that students face and factors related to race, ethnic background, and socioeconomic status (Noguera, 2003, 2004, 2008; Payne, 2008). This is true both in urban areas where poverty is more likely to be concentrated and in more affluent suburban schools that may benefit from their levels of per-pupil funding (Noguera, 2001; Stiefel, Schwartz, & Ellen, 2006). The persistence of the academic achievement gap 8 years after the enactment of No Child Left Behind suggests that a new approach is needed if greater progress is to be realized. Many schools, even those located in affluent communities, have been especially challenged in their efforts to educate poor and minority students. Despite well-intentioned, meaningful, and sophisticated reform efforts that have been used to combat the educational inequities students are facing, gaps in achievement persist (Breitborde & Swiniarski, 2002). …

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