Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Successful Implementation of a Federally Funded Violence Prevention Elementary School Counseling Program: Results Bring Sustainability

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Successful Implementation of a Federally Funded Violence Prevention Elementary School Counseling Program: Results Bring Sustainability

Article excerpt

Thirteen school districts in California were among the 64 national Elementary and Secondary School Counseling (ESSC) program grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009. The purpose of the ESSC grant (84.215E) is to fund the establishment or expansion of school counseling programs with the goal of expanding the quality of school counseling services (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). One awarded school district in southern California designed and implemented a comprehensive school counseling program based on the ASCA National Model (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2005) and evidenced-based practices (Dimmit, Carey, & Hatch, 2007). The requirements of the grant were written to include providing developmental prevention education curricula for all students and targeted interventions for students with identified needs. The grant proposal included three main goals: (a) implement an assessment-based, results-driven, comprehensive school counseling program that will serve as a catalyst and model for expansion throughout the district; (b) increase the social and emotional competencies and academic achievement of all students; and (c) minimize the barriers and increase resilience for students who are at higher risk of school failure. Through designing and implementing a comprehensive program with school counselors and a school social worker, prevention education would be provided to all students, and social and academic interventions would be created for students in need of more support. The purpose of this article is to share the successes and challenges of designing, implementing, and evaluating a comprehensive elementary school counseling program, for use as other schools begin or refine their own counseling programs. This case study's emphasis on sustaining and expanding school counseling programs also provides practitioners with suggestions about how to gain school, district, and community buy-in, with the goal of continuing school counseling programs despite budget changes.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Comprehensive, Data-Driven School Counseling Programs

Data-driven practices have become increasingly necessary in the profession of school counseling (ASCA, 2012; Carey, Dimmitt, Hatch, Lapan, & Whiston, 2008; Hatch & Chen-Hayes, 2008). ASCA's professional competencies, position statements, ethical guidelines, and the ASCA National Model call for school counseling programs to use data to systematically identify and address the needs of students for purposes of accountability and program improvement (ASCA, 2008, 2010a, 2010b, 2012). School counselors are urged to implement research-based interventions and accurately measure the impact of their activities on the students they serve (Carey et al., 2008; Johnson, 2002; Poynton & Carey, 2006). Wilkerson, Perusse, and Hughes (2013) compared school-wide Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results in Indiana K-12 schools between Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) schools and non-RAMP schools. Results indicated that professional school counselors are willing to collect data in order to create comprehensive school counseling programs. Furthermore, the implementation of data-driven school counseling programs continues to yield positive results on student achievement. In addition to collecting and analyzing data, sharing positive results with school administrators, school district officials, and other school stakeholders is essential to garnering support for school counseling programs (Hatch, 2014; Sink, 2009). To ensure the needs of the student population are being met, it is important for professional school counselors to identify evidenced-based curriculum and interventions using a data-driven decision-making process.

Second Step Violence Prevention Program

"Second Step" (Committee for Children, 2010) is a violence prevention curriculum used to teach social skills and reduce social/emotional problem behavior. …

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