The ASCA model sums up accountability for counselors with one simple question:
How are students different as a result of the school counseling program?
In answering this question after every session, small group meeting, classroom guidance lesson, and large group presentation counselors continually hold themselves accountable to both the ASCA model and the needs of their students. There are three elements to the accountability system:
When counselors put together an intervention, be it a small group session or a classroom lesson, they incorporate data collection into their plans. Counselors are looking to compare students before and after the intervention to look for differences. The information gathered through this data is summarized in results reports.
In creating results reports, counselors examine perception and results data. This data is then mined for implications - did the lesson work? Did the students learn the skill we wanted them to learn? Did the lesson cover material the students already knew? How can we improve the lesson next time?
School Counselor Performance Standards
The ASCA model clearly spells out standards for school counselors. These standards give counselors a tool for self-evaluation of performance. Administrators and teachers may also use these standards, as separate from those that might be used to evaluate a teacher, to evaluate the effectiveness of the department.
There are 13 School Counselor Performance Standards:
- The professional school counselor plans, organizes and delivers the school counseling program.
- The professional school counselor implements the school guidance curriculum through the use of effective instructional skills and careful planning of structured group sessions for all students.
- The professional school counselor implements the individual planning component by guiding individuals and groups of students and their parents or guardians through the development of educational and career plans.
- The professional school counselor provides responsive services through the effective use of individual and small-group counseling, consultation and referral skills.
- The professional school counselor provides system support through effective school counseling program management and support for other educational programs.
- The professional school counselor discusses the counseling department management system and the program action plans with the school administrator.
- The professional school counselor is responsible for establishing and convening an advisory council for the school counseling program.
- The professional school counselor collects and analyzes data to guide program direction and emphasis.
- The professional school counselor monitors the students on a regular basis as they progress in school.
- The professional school counselor uses time and calendars to implement an efficient program.
- The professional school counselor develops a results evaluation for the program.
- The professional school counselor conducts a yearly program audit.
- The professional school counselor is a student advocate, leader, collaborator and systems change agent.
The Program Audit
The program audit is an extensive, yearly accounting of the current state of the guidance program. Through seventeen different subsections, each containing multiple items, each element of the guidance program (Foundation, Delivery System, Management System, and Accountability) is compared against the ASCA national model.
School counselors evaluate their progress on a simple scale: None (not in place), In Progress (perhaps begun, but not completed), Completed (but perhaps not as yet implemented), to Implemented (fully).
The complete program audit can be found in The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (2nd Edition), produced by the American School Counselor Association.