Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselors' Perceptions of Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Programs: A National Survey

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselors' Perceptions of Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Programs: A National Survey

Article excerpt

Since the inception of the school counseling profession in the early 1900s, guidance personnel have attempted to align their functions with the educational mission of schools (Baker, 2000; Borders & Paisley, 1995; Henderson & Gysbers, 1998; Myrick, 1997; Schmidt, 1999). Similarly, national associations such as the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), American Counseling Association (ACA), and U.S. Department of Education continue to encourage school-based practitioners to develop full spectrum programs that reflect the learning goals of local districts. ASCA, for instance, recently published Sharing the Vision: National Standards for School Counseling Programs (Campbell & Dahir, 1997) and its companion volume Vision into Action: Implementing the National Standards for School Counseling Programs (Dahir, Sheldon, & Valiga, 1998), wherein counselors are requested to implement comprehensive guidance and counseling programs (CGCPs) that assist students to be more effective learners. By 1997, this goal had been partially reached with over half of the states devising and implementing some form of a CGCP (Sink & MacDonald, 1998).

Designed largely on the structure and guidelines outlined by Gysbers and Henderson (2000), and to a lesser extent by Myrick (1997), state- and districtdeveloped CGCPs are service-delivery models for school guidance and counseling. They attempt to reframe the traditional work of school counselors from a reactionary and crisis orientation to a proactive developmental-prevention focus (Paisley & Hubbard, 1994; Paisley & Peace, 1995; Wittmer, 2000). Not only are students (ages 5 to 19) provided individual and group counseling, they are also involved in mastering developmentally appropriate competencies that target essential educational, socio-emotional (personal/social), and career // occupational skills. An important characteristic of the CGCP involves the teaching of guidance and counseling curriculum aimed at meeting a range of developmental outcomes (Neukrug, Barr, Hoffman, & Kaplan, 1993; Paisley & Borders, 1995).

Even though a synthesis of research indicates that it is possible for counselors to implement effective counseling programs (e.g., Borders & Drury, 1992; Gysbers, Lapan, & Blair, 1999; Hughey, Gysbers, & Starr, 1993; Hughey, Lapan, & Gysbers, 1993; Lapan, Gysbers, Hughey, & Ami, 1993; Lapan, Gysbers, & Sun, 1997; Prout & Prout, 1998; Scruggs, Wasielewski, & Ash, 1999; Whiston & Sexton, 1998), and CGCPs are currently found in nearly 30 states across the United States (Sink & MacDonald, 1998), a nationwide appraisal of school counselors' concerns and perceptions of their CGCP has not been conducted (Yillik-Downer, 2000). Widespread anecdotal evidence suggests that counselors largely appreciate this systemic and developmental approach to their work; however, similar data also point out that implementing CGCPs remains a challenging process (e.g., Gysbers, Lapan, & Jones, 2000; MacDonald & Sink, 1999).

One substantial difficulty with effecting large-scale educational reform relates to the valid measurement of the change or reform process. It is critical that those professionals most accountable for implementing systemic reform be surveyed about their attitudes regarding the innovation. By the mid-1970s, for example, Hall and his colleagues (Hall, Loukes, Rutherford, & Newlove, 1975) began constructing the Stages of Concern Questionnaire (SoC Questionnaire), which measures teachers' developmental concerns about the educational change process (see Hall, George, & Rutherford, 1998, and Hord, Rutherford, HulingAustin, & Hall, 1987, for detailed discussions). The underlying assumptions that define the SoC Questionnaire are:

* Change is a process.

* Individuals are responsible for change.

* Each individual experiences the process of change in a unique manner. …

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