To improve, counseling and guidance programs must be evaluated and areas of concern determined. Cheramie and Sutter (1993) report that in the schools, a minimal amount of time is spent on research, training, and program evaluation. There are ways to effectively evaluate counseling and guidance programs, despite arguments that the outcomes of counseling and guidance programs cannot be measured accurately (Lewis, 1983). Good evaluation of such programs includes informal means such as subjective evaluations and formal means, which use different instruments (Wiggins & Moody, 1987). One of the most effective ways to evaluate a program is to survey those who directly receive the services-the students (Wiggins & Moody, 1987).
Wasielewski, Scruggs, and Scott (1997) evaluated a program called Teachers as Counselors (TAC) where trained teachers led groups for students who were referred for various reasons. Student participants were given an evaluation to complete that measured student satisfaction with the program, along with an instrument to measure life events and associated stress (Wasielewski et al., 1997). Students were pleased with their experience in TAC as 78% of students expressed the desire to participate in TAC again (Wasielewski et al., 1997). McLaughlin et al. (1993) examined a similar program called TAF (Teachers as Facilitators), in which trained teachers conducted small groups and students reported positive benefits. Lavoritano and Segal (1992) explained that the counseling staff that they studied felt that they were not able to make a difference in their students, but the program evaluation revealed to staff members that they could have a positive effect on students. Lavoritano and Segal (1992) also found that students referred for counseling and students in a nonreferred control group were significantly different. More males were referred than females, which confirms the findings of previous research (Lavoritano & Segal,1992). Wiggins and Moody (1987) reported that the counselors rated as most effective were those who spent more time in direct contact with students in individual and group counseling.
The Spring Independent School District of Houston, TX, evaluated its counseling program and surveyed stakeholders of the program via surveys and focus groups. Stakeholders refer to those who have a particular interest in the counseling programparents, staff members, and students. The purpose of the study was to assess the level of awareness of the various aspects of the district counseling program, to find out which parts of the program were working well, and to determine the areas that need improvement.
Elementary students, secondary students, and parents were selected through a random sampling. Respondents included 746 staff members (which encompassed teachers, counselors, and school administrators), 232 elementary students, 434 secondary students, and 140 parents. Students completed the surveys during the school day at their home campus. The student response rate was close to 100% since every student participated unless absent on the day of survey administration. The surveys were sent to 750 parents selected through random sampling. The parent response rate was 19%. The survey was sent to all 1,449 staff members. The response rate for staff members was 52%. The breakdown of respondents by gender was 51% male and 49% female for elementary students and 48% male and 52% female for secondary students. The breakdown of respondents by grade for elementary students was 31% third grade, 34% fourth grade, and 34% fifth grade. The breakdown of respondents by grade for secondary students was 16% sixth grade, 15% seventh grade, 14% eighth grade, 16% ninth grade, 16% tenth grade, 14% eleventh grade, and 9% twelfth grade. The ethnic breakdown of the school district was 56% White, 20% African American, 18% Hispanic, 6% Asian/Pacific Islander, and less than 1% Native American.
The survey consisted of a form for each of the four different groups of participants. …