Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

A Statewide Evaluation of the Outcomes of the Implementation of ASCA National Model School Counseling Programs in Utah High Schools

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

A Statewide Evaluation of the Outcomes of the Implementation of ASCA National Model School Counseling Programs in Utah High Schools

Article excerpt

A statewide evaluation of school counseling programs in Utah high schools explored which features of the ASCA National Model were related to student educational outcomes. The authors used hierarchical linear regression and Pearson correlations to examine relationships between program characteristics and student outcomes. School counseling program features accounted for statistically significant portions of the variance in critical student outcomes. Results provide additional support to previous studies that found benefits for students associated with more complete implementation of comprehensive school counseling programs. These findings also indicate that implementing features of the ASCA National Model is associated with improved student outcomes.

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This statewide evaluation of school counseling programs in Utah high schools was designed to identify the characteristics of school counseling programs that are related to positive outcomes for students. Properly interpreting the findings requires understanding both the results of previous statewide evaluations in other states and the specific state context that has influenced the development of school counseling program improvement initiatives in Utah.

State-level policy and leadership have strongly influenced the development of the school counseling profession. Gysbers (2006) summarized these influences in school counseling over the past 60 years and stated, "strong leadership at the state level is a key to developing effective and accountable comprehensive guidance and counseling programs at the local level" (p. 247). Gysbers maintained that strong state-level leadership fosters needed collaborations, forms common understandings about school counseling, enables local implementation of effective programs that impact student growth and achievement, and contributes to education reform.

To promote effective school counseling practice, many states have developed state models for the organization and management of school counseling programs (Martin, Carey, & DeCoster, 2009; Sink & MacDonald, 1998). In the 1990s, the most common foundation of state models was comprehensive developmental guidance (Gysbers & Henderson, 2000; Sink & Macdonald, 1998). More recently, many states have expanded this foundation by revising their models to be consistent with the ASCA National Model (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2012; Martin et al., 2009). The ASCA National Model incorporates the differentiated delivery system of comprehensive developmental guidance but adds new features to the school counseling program's foundation, management, and accountability systems (e.g., mission statement, results reports).

Determining the features of school counseling programs that are most effective in achieving student outcomes is crucial. One very important way to investigate this is through statewide studies that examine the relationships between program characteristics and student outcomes. In the past 20 years, however, only four rigorous, quantitative statewide evaluations of school counseling programs have been published, and from just two states, Missouri and Washington.

Previous Statewide Evaluation Studies

Lapan, Gysbers, and Sun (1997) evaluated the impact of comprehensive developmental guidance implementation on student outcomes. Their evaluation included data from a statewide group of 236 high schools in the state of Missouri. The researchers used the high school accreditation database to develop several student self-report measures of outcomes (e.g., level of availability of career and college information, liking for school) and a 32-item counselor-rated survey of the level of implementation of the comprehensive guidance model at their school. The researchers also collected data on students' demographics (e.g., gender, racial/ethnic status, and parents' education) and school characteristics (e. …

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