Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

A Statewide Evaluation of the Outcomes of the Implementation of ASCA National Model School Counseling Programs in Rural and Suburban Nebraska 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 Rural and Suburban Nebraska High Schools

Article excerpt

A statewide evaluation of school counseling programs in rural and suburban Nebraska high schools investigated which features of the ASCA National Model were related to student educational outcomes. The authors used hierarchical linear regression and Pearson correlations to explore relationships between program characteristics and student outcomes. Analyses suggested that school counseling program features accounted for statistically significant portions of the variance in a number of important student outcomes. These findings provide support for previous studies linking benefits to students with the more complete implementation era comprehensive developmental guidance program. Implementing features of the ASCA National Model was associated with improved student outcomes.

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This article reports the results of a statewide evaluation of school counseling programs in public high schools in Nebraska. This study utilized the same surveys, procedures, and data analysis strategies employed in the Utah study also reported in this special issue. To avoid duplication and save space, descriptions of surveys and research methodologies used in both studies are not repeated in the Nebraska study. The extensive literature review contained in the Utah study also pertains directly to the Nebraska study and, therefore, is not duplicated. Although these two studies share surveys and data analysis strategies, each is an independent examination of the unique context and culture within which comprehensive school counseling programs have been implemented in such diverse states. This article tells the individual story of how comprehensive school counseling programs have come to be put in place across the state of Nebraska and explores possible benefits for students connected to these efforts. The authors also discuss similarities and differences between the Nebraska and Utah studies.

HISTORY AND FEATURES OF SCHOOL COUNSELING IN NEBRASKA

Nebraska has a population of nearly 1,800,000 (U.S. Census, 2010) with 293,000 students enrolled in public K-12 schools (National Center for Educational Statistics [NCES], 2009). The state has 1,158 public schools in 254 school districts (NCES, 2009). Elementary and secondary schools are served by 928 school counselors with a student-to-school-counselor ratio of 366:1 (ASCA, 2009). Nearly two thirds of the state's population is spread across rural farmland, with the rest of the population concentrated within the two metropolitan areas of Omaha and Lincoln.

Education policy within Nebraska can be described as "locally controlled" in that most educational decisions are made by local school districts (Timar, 1999). Despite this orientation, Nebraska does have state education administrative rules (Title 92, Chapter 10, code 007.5 a, b & c) that mandate school counseling programs as a component of the school accreditation process (Nebraska Department of Education, 2010). Rather than simply assuring minimal compliance, the state school counseling specialist focuses on optimizing the quality and impact of school counseling programs.

Since the late 1980s, Nebraska's state-level involvement in school counseling has mirrored the comprehensive school counseling movement. Nebraska's close proximity to Missouri allowed for multiple training opportunities by Dr. Norman Gysbers during the 1990s. Gysbers also worked with the state Department of Education (DOE) to create the Nebraska School Counseling Guide for Planning and Program Improvement (Nebraska DOE, 1991). The guide was disseminated at professional development workshops at annual Nebraska School Counselor Association (NSCA) conferences and DOE-sponsored trainings. This early work on the Nebraska Guide familiarized school counselors with the merits of comprehensive school counseling and encouraged Nebraska leadership to promote the establishment of comprehensive programs across the state.

Barnes, Scofield, Her, and Vrbka (2005) conducted a statewide survey in 2002 to investigate the implementation of school counseling practices outlined in the Nebraska Guide (2000) and received 423 completed surveys from 917 (46. …

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