The Work Activities of Professional School Counselors: Are the National Standards Being Addressed?

By Foster, Linda H.; Young, J. Scott et al. | Professional School Counseling, April 2005 | Go to article overview

The Work Activities of Professional School Counselors: Are the National Standards Being Addressed?


Foster, Linda H., Young, J. Scott, Hermann, Mary, Professional School Counseling


This national study was designed to identify school counselors" perceptions of the importance of performing work activities that promote students" academic, career, and personal/social development. Furthermore, this study investigated how frequently school counselors performed work activities that promote these areas of students' development. Results suggest that school counselors rate their work activities as important and the counselors are frequently performing these work activities.

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School counselors have been vital components of the educational system since the 1920s, though the professional identity and daily activities of school counselors have evolved significantly since the inception of the profession (Gysbers & Henderson, 2000; Myrick, 1997). The issues of role, practice, and professional identity have been addressed extensively in the literature for many years and these issues continue to be discussed (American School Counselor Association, 1999; Baker, 2001; Bowers & Hatch, 2002; Dahir, 2001; Education Trust, 1997; Gysbers, 2001; Gysbers & Henderson; Herr, 2002; Hughey, 2002; Sink, 2002; Whiston, 2002). Borders (2002) specifically mentioned the role conflict and questioned whether school counselors should focus on mental health concerns for students or students' educational goals. Paisley and McMahon (2001) also recognized the conflicting areas of emphasis for school counselors' work, alternating between students' educational issues and students' personal and social development.

In the 1990s, national school reform initiatives prompted the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Governing Board to develop the National Standards for School Counseling Programs (NSSCP; Campbell & Dahir, 1997; Dahir, 2001). In March 2001, ASCA's Governing Board agreed to the development of a national school counseling model (Bowers & Hatch, 2002). These documents continue to influence the focus of school counseling programs and the interventions provided by school counselors (Campbell & Dahir; Dahir; Dahir, Sheldon, & Valiga, 1998; Paisley & Borders, 1995; Sink & MacDonald, 1998). Several writers (Bowers & Hatch; Campbell & Dahir; House & Hayes, 2002; Lenhardt & Young, 2001; Rowell & Hong, 2002; Whiston, 2002) have cited the current standards-driven environment as driving school counselors to provide evidence of their contribution to the academic development of students. Moreover, questions and concerns exist regarding the role school counselors perform in the educational system and in particular their role in relation to the academic, career, and personal/social development of students. Yet, professional literature still lacks empirical research regarding the role and function of school counselors and the impact of the National Standards (Adelman & Taylor, 2002; Bemak, 2000; Burnham & Jackson, 2000; Green & Keys, 2001; House & Hayes; Johnson, 2000; Kuranz, 2002; Paisley & McMahon, 2001; Sears & Granello, 2002; Sink, 2002).

PURPOSE OF THIS STUDY

This study was designed to identify and gain a detailed description of the work activities currently being performed by school counselors and to provide empirical information about the role of school counselors. In addition, this study sought to determine if the work activities of school counselors are promoting student development in the three areas of the National Standards (i.e., academic, career, and personal/social development). This study addressed two research questions: The first question considered school counselors' perceptions of the importance of counselor effectiveness in performing work activities that promote students' academic, career, and personal/social development. The second question assessed the frequency with which school counselors performed critical work activities that promote students' academic, career, and personal/social development. …

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