Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

The National Standards for School Counseling Programs: Development and Implementation

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

The National Standards for School Counseling Programs: Development and Implementation

Article excerpt

The school reform agenda of the 1990s prompted the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) to focus significant efforts and resources to advocate for the establishment of school counseling programs as an integral component of the educational system. Various writers (Darling-Hammond, 1992, 1997; Doyle & Pimentel, 1997; Eisner, 1993; Ravitch, 1995) emphasized the need to improve teaching and learning, design and implement standards, and develop tools of accountability to demonstrate higher levels of student achievement. In response to Goals 2000: The Educate America Act (U.S. Department of Education, 1994), the ASCA Governing Board committed to the development of national standards for school counseling programs. The intent of this effort was to motivate the school counseling community to identify and implement goals for students deemed important by the profession, clarify the relationship of school counseling to the educational system, and address the contributions of school counseling to student success in school. This article presents the rationale, development process, content, and implications for ASCA's National Standards for School Counseling Programs (Campbell & Dahir, 1997).

Relationship of School Reform to School Counseling

A number of school reform initiatives were proposed and enacted to achieve excellence in education (e.g., National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983; National Education Goals Panel, 1994; U.S. Department of Education, 1987). Policy makers concentrated on drawing public attention to the rising tide of mediocrity threatening American education (U.S. Department of Education, 1987). Monographs such as A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), What Works: Research About Teaching and Learning (U.S. Department of Education, 1987), The Forgotten Half: Pathways to Success for America's Youth and Young Families (William T. Grant Commission on Work, Family and Citizenship, 1988), and What Work Requires of Schools: A SCANS report for America 2000 (Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, 1991) addressed the need to enhance the quality of education in the United States and noted that the nation's economic future depended on providing higher levels of educational opportunity.

The school reform agenda promoted by Goals 2000 provided the momentum for the national standards movement and supported the creation of world-class benchmarks across the curricula to ensure that all graduates of high schools and post-secondary institutions could compete in a global economy. The demands on schools for higher student achievement and the reallocation of educational resources were noted as necessary to prepare the next generation of Americans with the computational, literacy, technical, and learning skills needed to be productive participants in tomorrow's economy (Annie Casey Foundation, 1996). According to Archibald (2000), the need for improvements in public education came from politicians and representatives of business and industry.

Although relatively few areas of public education escaped the scrutiny of national attention, none of these widely distributed reports or more recent proposals for school reform suggested by various organizations (e.g., National Association of Secondary School Principals, 1996) mentioned school counseling as integral to improving student success in school. School counseling programs were ignored as a means to improve student achievement and help students prepare for the future.

Burtnett (1993) addressed the same issue and concluded that the relatively small size of the counseling community or the lack of public and professional understanding of the roles performed by school counselors contributed to school counseling not being considered. Borders and Drury (1992) suggested that school counselors played an important role in shaping the design and implementation of counseling programs to best meet individual student needs, while Whitson and Sexton (1998) noted that more research has been conducted in the areas of remediating rather than in preventing problems. …

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