How might we assess how effective counselors are in terms of working with students?
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Standards for Students (ASCA 2005) speak to specific student competencies and indicators that align with the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Professional Growth System (PGS) and guide the school counselor in providing services to meet the developmental needs (i.e., academic, career, social/emotional) of all students. The standards describe what students should be able to do so they can achieve their highest potential. The ASCA model sums up accountability for counselors with one simple question, “How are students different as a result of what school counselors do?”
Counselors continually hold themselves accountable to the needs of their students as they conduct small group, grade-level team meetings; facilitate Collaborative Problem Solving team meetings; and provide classroom guidance lessons and professional development to MCPS staff members. When counselors plan for ongoing work, they incorporate data-based, decision-making processes into their plans. Counselors utilize the myMCPS database and MCPS Form 272-10, Documentation of Interventions, to compare students’ progress before and after an agreed upon intervention. Overall school data and individual student data is used to inform practice that benefits schools and students.
MCPS’s PGS incorporates professional standards that give counselors a tool for self-evaluation of their performance. School administrators may use the following standards to evaluate the effectiveness of the certified school counselor:
- Plans, organizes, and delivers the school counseling program
- Implements the school guidance curriculum through the use of effective instructional skills and careful planning of structured group sessions for all students
- Implements the individual planning component by guiding individuals and groups of students and their parents/guardians through the development of educational and career plans
- Provides responsive services through the effective use of individual and small-group counseling, consultation, and referral skills
- Provides system support through effective school counseling program management and support for other educational programs
- Discusses the counseling department management system and the program action plans with the school administrator
- Collects and analyzes data to guide program direction and emphasis
- Monitors the students on a regular basis as they progress in school
- Uses time and calendars to implement an efficient program
- Develops a results evaluation for the program
- Takes on the role of student advocate, leader, collaborator and systems change agent.