School Counselors and School Psychologists: Collaborative Partners in Promoting Culturally Competent Schools

By Simcox, April G.; Nuijens, Karen L. et al. | Professional School Counseling, April 2006 | Go to article overview

School Counselors and School Psychologists: Collaborative Partners in Promoting Culturally Competent Schools


Simcox, April G., Nuijens, Karen L., Lee, Courtland C., Professional School Counseling


Culturally competent schools are successful in both meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities associated with multiculturalism and diversity. This article explores collaboration between school counselors and school psychologists for promoting such schools. The complementary, nature of the roles of these professionals emerging from educational reform and accountability initiatives is discussed first. The article then offers a model of collaboration between school counselors and school psychologists for promoting culturally competent, academically successful schools.

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Fifty years on from the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, America's schools are faced with a number of significant challenges and opportunities with respect to cultural diversity. While that landmark Supreme Court decision presented African American children with the prospect of equality, in education, the issues of educational equity and access are now focused on an increasingly diverse student population. Racial and ethnic diversity, has increased substantially in the past two decades and is projected to increase even more in the years to come (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1997).

Coupled with cultural diversity issues are the demands placed upon schools for greater accountability. In an era of legislative initiatives such as No Child Left Behind (U.S. Department of Education, 2001), educators find themselves under significant public pressure to ensure that students, regardless of their cultural background, achieve to high academic standards. Educators, therefore, must now ensure both that schools are culturally responsive to the needs of an increasingly diverse student body and that all young people are performing at high levels. Historically, schools with diverse populations often have experienced challenges when it comes to achieving this objective (Farkas, 2003; Noguera, 2003).

A culturally competent school is one that is successful in both meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities associated with multiculturalism and diversity (Lee, 2001). In order to make such a school a reality, it is important for all stakeholders involved in the educational development of young people to be a part of this process. Two such important stakeholders are the school counselor and the school psychologist. Both of these educational professionals have promoting the academic, social, and emotional development of children as mutual and overarching goals. Therefore, school counselors and school psychologists, working as collaborative partners, are in an ideal position to promote culturally competent, high-achieving schools.

The importance of collaboration between school counselors and school psychologists has been previously addressed in the literature (Murphy, DeEsch, & Strein, 1998; Rowley, 2000). Murphy and colleagues stressed the significance of unifying counseling and psychological services in schools to address the growing demand of inclusive education. In a similar vein, Rowley presented a model for collaboration between school counselors and school psychologists that emphasized the promotion of student academic success.

The purpose of this article is to expand on the ideas presented by Murphy and colleagues (1998), as well as Rowley (2000), and to explore a model of collaboration specifically targeted at promoting culturally competent schools. The article first examines the complementary nature of the roles of these two professionals that have emerged in the wake of school reform and accountability initiatives. The article then introduces the model and discusses the nature and methods of the collaboration. It is important to note that this model promotes an ideal for collaboration between school counselors and school psychologists. The actual implementation of the model in its entirety must be considered within the context of the realities of school climate and current job responsibilities of each professional. …

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