Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Comprehensive School Counseling Programs and Student Achievement Outcomes: A Comparative Analysis of Ramp versus Non-Ramp Schools

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Comprehensive School Counseling Programs and Student Achievement Outcomes: A Comparative Analysis of Ramp versus Non-Ramp Schools

Article excerpt

This study compares school-wide Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) results in Indiana schools earning the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) designation (n = 75) with a sample of control schools stratified by level and locale (n = 226). K-12 schools earning the RAMP designation in 2007, 2008, and 2009 comprise the experimental group. Findings indicate that school-wide proficiency rates in English/ Language Arts and Math are significantly higher in RAMP-designated elementary schools compared to elementary controls. Four-year longitudinal results indicate a significant positive difference between RAMP-designated elementary schools and their controls in Math. Findings provide support for the impact of comprehensive, data-driven, accountable school counseling programs at the elementary level and suggest further research is needed at the middle and secondary levels. This article presents and discusses additional results and implications for practice.

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The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) developed The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (2003a) in order to clarify the roles and expectations of an entire profession. Revised in 2005 and again in 2012, the ASCA National Model was written:

to reflect a comprehensive approach to program foundation, delivery, management, and accountability. The ASCA National Model provides the mechanism with which school counselors and school counseling teams will design, coordinate, implement, manage and evaluate their programs for students' success. It provides a framework for the program components, the school counselor's role in implementation, and the underlying philosophies of leadership, advocacy, and systemic change. (ASCA, 2005, p. 9)

On the heels of the ASCA National Model, ASCA developed the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) designation (2003b). Based on the fundamental tenets of the ASCA National Model, RAMP status is conferred only after school counselors complete a detailed application substantiating their efforts to develop and implement comprehensive, data-driven, accountable school counseling programs guided by their schools' specific, identified needs. In spring 2004, the first time RAMP schools were recognized, three schools earned this designation. By 2010, 309 schools had earned this distinction (ASCA, 2011). This growth in the number of schools earning the RAMP designation over a period of 6 years appears to represent an increased commitment by many school counselors to move their programs towards greater accountability and data-driven, comprehensive programming. However, if school counselors are to invest time and energy with the RAMP process, investigation of the potential impacts of such efforts on student outcomes is important.

Thus, the purpose of the current study was to gather school-wide, comparative student outcome data in K-12 RAMP and non-RAMP schools in order to investigate the impact of comprehensive school counseling programs on student academic success.

Educational Reform, Student Outcomes, and Accountability

On the heels of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 and the more recent Reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (U.S. Department of Education, 2010), measuring student outcomes has become the prevailing expectation for schools and school professionals. Public schools are required to assess student learning on an annual basis by administering standardized tests to students in grades 3-8 and again in grade 10. Student achievement in the areas of English/Language Arts (ELA) and Math is assessed universally on an annual basis. These standardized tests are used to evaluate progress at the individual student level, within each specific school or district, and throughout each state. Results can be disaggregated by grade, gender, ethnicity, and student socio-economic status. Statewide accountability efforts and enhanced access to such comprehensive outcome information make it possible to conduct sound, comparative research. …

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