Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

The Value of Extracurricular Support in Increased Student Achievement: An Assessment of a Pupil Personnel Model Including School Counselors and School Psychologists concerning Student Achievement as Measured by an Academic Performance Index

Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

The Value of Extracurricular Support in Increased Student Achievement: An Assessment of a Pupil Personnel Model Including School Counselors and School Psychologists concerning Student Achievement as Measured by an Academic Performance Index

Article excerpt

This study examined two models of extra-curricular support for enhancing the academic achievement of students as measured by state mandated test scores. One management model includes the use of school counselors as enhancers of the educational process while the other model addresses the contribution of school psychologists. To differentiate between these separate although related models for serving students in a large Pacific coast state's public school setting, this study included the structural equations modeling technique Analysis of Moment Structures (AMOS). Within the statistical model examined, student achievement on the API scores served as the dependent variable and student diversity as operationalized by using the number of students receiving free or reduced meals as the proxy for economic status was always included as a covariate. Findings include that the number of psychologists employed by a public school district demonstrate a significant and decisive impact on achievement.

Since Sputnick I in 1951, a major concern of policy makers and educators has been and continues to be the improvement of student performance in the public school setting. Initial efforts in this area were encapsulated in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (E.S.E.A.), and these reforms have been followed by a spate of additional influential legislations (i.e., Public Law 94-142). Most recently, this same thrust of legislative activities continues to be perpetuated by the No Child Left Behind (N.C.L.B.) Act (2002).

Constant across these legislative enactments throughout the past decades is the perceived value of extra curricular support beyond the classroom setting. Extra-curricular support was promoted initially as a means of identifying and of enticing gifted students to pursue careers in science and mathematics. Early on, school counselors played an almost exclusive role as a means of accomplishing these goals for identifying and enticing students into selective academic ventures.

Although concerns about student achievement continue to be a mainstream concern during the last 50 years (Fullan, 1991), the focus of educational reform efforts has been recast to include other students beyond the most able. Most notably, within the 1970's, emphasis was redirected from the most able students to the least able students. To address the needs of the least able students within the public school setting, Public Law 94-142 (U.S. Congress, Senate, 1975) was passed in 1975.

Public Law 94-142, like E.S.E.A., required the services of additional professional personnel in the public school setting. To complement, as well expand the expertise of school counselors, PL 94-142 legislated that public school districts employ school psychologists. During the late 70's and early 80's, school psychologists were employed by public school districts, and these newly appointed personnel focused largely on the neediest students and became a mainstay in public education (Tindall, 1983).

Following the commissioned report "A Nation at Risk" (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), concerns about student achievement were redirected somewhat from individuals, as students, to school districts as organizations. To measure the performance of school districts, most states have legislated proficiency tests. Unlike achievement levels of individuals, as students, protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (1966), achievement levels for school districts are public information and are reported by the popular press in most communities.

As a source of public information, the academic performance of school districts is well publicized. For some states this information is labeled as a report card, while for other states this information is reported by an academic performance index. In all states using standardized measures, these results serve as a barometer of pupil performance for a variety of educational stakeholders including parents, educators, and policy makers. …

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