Assessing Your School Counseling Program
The ability to create and sustain a comprehensive school counseling program which meets the needs of all students within your school relies on your ability to assess your school counseling program regularly. Data should be used to measure the effectiveness of school counseling activities, but it should also be used to appraise the overall school counseling program for the purpose of engendering continuous improvement. The Full Program Audit The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) has developed a national program model which is founded on four quadrants: Foundation, Delivery, Management, and Accountability. To learn more about ASCA’s National Model click here. To accompany this model, the ASCA has created a full program audit, which you can access here. This program audit allows you to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses within your program. School counselors should strive maintain the programmatic strengths while also improving upon the identified weaknesses. The Curriculum Based Audit All school counseling programs should have a school counseling curriculum from which school counseling activities can be aligned to. The purpose of the curriculum is to guide school counseling activities, but to also develop a level of accountability in regards to the school counseling activities delivered. If you are using ASCA standards, you are in luck. Once again, the ASCA comes to our rescue and has produced a cross-walking tool. This can be accessed here and will guide you through a curriculum based audit. School counselors can also create a customized curriculum based audit which measures counselor activities aligned to the ASCA standards. Here is a sample of a customized curriculum based audit. Measuring your school counseling activities in a quantifiable manner, aligned to the ASCA standards will allow you to identify areas of need. Furthermore, the collected data will support you in your campaign to gain further departmental resources to address the identified areas of need. The Activity Based Audit There are a few methods to develop a school counselor activity based audit. The easiest is to simply track your activities and sort them into one of the four delivery system components: Curriculum, Individual Student Planning, Responsive Services, and System Support. To further understand what activities fall within the realm of each component, you can visit here. Another method for performing an activity based audit is to use Dr. Poynton’s EZ Analyze. You can check out the time tracker here. EZ Analyze is an add-on program for Microsoft Excel, so it is very cost effective. It does take a little work to get it set up, but the data one is able to collect is extremely valuable. One feature of the program is the ability to track counselor time. There are many of us who complain about duties expected of us that do not fall within our job description. By tracking our activities we can create data which helps us assess our school counseling program and advocate on the behalf of our profession. Mid-year and annual assessments will require additional work from all of us. However, they also are vital in developing a comprehensive school counseling program which continues meet the changing needs of all of your students. We can no longer do the same thing year after year and continuous assessments are needed to ensure we continue to be important members of our schools.