Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

The Development of Technology-Based Counseling Strategies to Enhance Outreach to Parents and Students

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

The Development of Technology-Based Counseling Strategies to Enhance Outreach to Parents and Students

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper presents a program for counseling students enrolled in an online charter school located in Las Vegas, Nevada. The author presents a review of the process to establish an online school in Nevada and a unique model for delivery of services that combines face-to-face instruction and online education. The author describes the development of a counseling program that includes strategies for encouraging college attendance. Students and parents are given an orientation to online education, online test-taking strategies, and online resources for admission to college. A sample of a web page for counseling and guidance is provided. In addition, this paper summarizes an intervention and research study conducted by the author while serving as Director of Counseling and Director of Testing.

This paper describes a counselor-led intervention to improve mathematics proficiency, help parents and students access learning and test-taking strategies available online, and help parents and students transition to a distance-learning school. The author explores the connection between failure on the test and failure to attend college. The counseling program was developed to expose parents and students to resources that promote college attendance. This action research study was designed to improve achievement in mathematics and prepare students for the mathematics proficiency test.

The scores on the Nevada Proficiency Test in Mathematics were used to measure improvement. As a result of the implementation of test-taking strategies, there was an improvement in the number of senior students passing the test. Before the implementation of the strategies, the percentage of students passing the test ranged from 0% in February 2003 to 7% in April 2003. The Clark County School District has an average passing rate of 20%. After the implementation of the strategies, 30% of the students tested passed the test (November 2003). The results of the parent survey were positive with a majority of parents participating in the orientation and stating that the orientation provided excellent information.

Introduction

The challenge of promoting academic achievement and enhancing outreach to parents and students in Las Vegas, Nevada, is at times overwhelming for educators. Las Vegas is a twenty-four-hour resort-and-hospitality environment with an emphasis on quick and easy money from gaming and entertainment-focused enterprises. Academic achievement at times receives less emphasis than the glamour and glitz of jobs in the entertainment industry. This is a city where casino employees can make more than teachers. Myth and reality intertwine with stories of valet parking attendants and blackjack dealers who make six-figure incomes. Counseling in this environment is aimed at presenting opportunities and alternatives to students who are not exposed to a variety of occupations and who have not been prepared to succeed in a changing work environment. According to Las Vegas Life Magazine (2005) this city leads the country in job growth and added seventy-six thousand new jobs last year. The jobs that now offer the most opportunity for students are outside the casino industry in areas of healthcare, housing, and retail.

Las Vegas is now reporting more revenue from non-gambling venues than from gaming. Las Vegas is a city of contrasts and contradictions. It is a city that boasts that fifty thousand new residents move in year attracted by the climate, lack of an income tax, and job opportunities. It is a city that has a speed limit of forty-five miles an hour on city streets; however, traffic can come to a slow crawl of fifteen miles an hour when you go through a school zone. The population increase and the construction of approximately twelve to fifteen schools a year guarantees that most Las Vegas residents will go through a school zone at least once on a daily commute to work.

A report on Student Achievement and Graduation Rates in Nevada by WestEd (2005) documents an enrollment increase of 188% between 1970 and 2000. …

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