Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

The School Counselor Leadership Survey: Instrument Development and Exploratory Factor Analysis

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

The School Counselor Leadership Survey: Instrument Development and Exploratory Factor Analysis

Article excerpt

The professional literature in education is replete with calls for increased leadership, and the case for developing leadership skills among school counselors is strong given the many challenges that schools and educators face today. Many scholars endorse leadership approaches that specifically emphasize the sustainable impact of effective leadership practices on student achievement (Bennis & Nanus, 2003; Britzman, 2005; Marzano, 2010; Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2001) and view leadership as imperative for educational systems striving to close achievement and opportunity gaps (Chen-Hayes, Ockerman & Mason, 2013; Shield, 2012). A common strand among successful educational leadership approaches is a core belief that leadership is central for transformative visions focused on improved, productive student outcomes (Bass, 1985; Cottrell, 2002). For example, transformative leadership practices focus on changes that result in success for all students through the development of solid stakeholder relationships and socially just beliefs and practices (Shield, 2012).

The call to action to train school counselors-in-training and practicing K-12 school counselors as leaders need not be debated (Brown & Trusty, 2005; Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs [CACREP], 2009; ChenHayes et al., 2013; Dollarhide, 2003; Dollarhide, Gibson, & Saginak, 2008; Dollarhide & Lemberger, 2006; Education Trust, 1996; Hanson & Stone, 2002; House & Hayes, 2002; House & Sears, 2002; Jason, Stone, & Clark, 2009; National Office for School Counselor Advocacy [NOSCA], 2011; Sink, 2009). The capacity to lead in schools requires a willingness to respect the opinions of students and colleagues (Spillane, 2006), the courage to challenge status quo (Singleton, & Linton, 2006), the ability to develop a common vision (Curry & DeVoss, 2009), and a passion to initiate innovative programs (Marzano, 2010). This refined leadership shift is manifested in the school counseling profession and places school counselors as key players in education reform and in fostering positive student achievement outcomes (Education Trust, 1996).

School counselor leadership is presented in the ASCA National Model as critical for the design and implementation of sustainable comprehensive school counseling programs (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2012). The parallel themes of advocacy, collaboration, and systemic change in the ASCA National Model also integrate leadership practices to various degrees, promoting the actualization of leadership as an essential practice for school counseling programs to augment student learning outcomes and college and career opportunities for all students (ASCA, 2012; Hines & Lemon, 2011). The reality is that many school counselors currently initiate programs and deliver services that directly involve them in leadership in their school. Young and Miller-Kneale (2013) conceptualize school counselors working at elementary and secondary levels as engaging in horizontal leadership by working collaboratively within their schools as change agents to improve student outcomes, address systemic issues affecting student success, and initiate programs to fill identified gaps. In a similar way, school counseling supervisors at the school and district levels engage in vertical leadership, which incorporates all aspects of horizontal school counselor leadership plus the capacity to secure resources and professional development for school counselors (Young & Miller-Kneale, 2013). Both horizontal and vertical attributes and practices contribute to mobilizing school counselor leadership.

The call for improved school counselor leadership practices and development is explicit. Yet, the need for articulation of a mutual definition remains and the process of researching effective school counseling leadership practices has just begun. This article extends the work through the identification of school counseling leadership practices normed on a large body of school counselor respondents. …

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