Sunday, November 30, 2014

How the School Counselor affects Achievement Data

Photo courtesy of Teaching High School Psychology
I cannot tell you how any times I've heard, "I just don't see how I, as a school counselor, can improve test results."

This is a scary statement to hear in this day and age, but an even scarier belief for the school counselor saying it.

If you weren't taught how the two correlate, you just don't know--and that's ok. Here's a quick overview to elucidate the connection and foster a transformed school counseling mindset.

First, think back to Maslow. If a student's basic needs are not met, it will be more difficult for him/her to perform in class, if they even make it to class. It will also be more difficult for them to learn and apply the material later, especially on a standardized test, and especially if they have no idea why in the heck they're taking the test.

Now, think about the ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors (standards & competencies). As school counselors we are there to foster a growth mindset and assist students as they set goals for the future, learn pro-social skills and master competencies that will ensure that they take the right classes at the right time, study effectively, come to school prepared to learn, do their homework and of course ask for help when they need it.

Now stop and think about that for a moment.

Really, close your eyes and think about how this all fits together.

If the school counselor didn't work with the students to assess their learning styles they probably wouldn't even know that they might learn differently than their best friend--so studying together might not be as effective as studying with the kid that sees and makes sense of the world the way they do.

If the school counselor didn't teach that lesson about violence prevention or interpersonal communication how many students would spend more time in the office than in class? And how many more would avoid school all together because they don't want to be victimized any more and they feel like no one cares?

If the school counselor didn't teach the student body how to set SMART goals and develop 4-6 year academic plans, how would the students even know what it takes to make their dreams a reality, how to push through the obstacles that get in the way, what careers they were interested in and what classes they should take to make those aspirations a reality?

Today it takes a school counselor to address achievement-related factors so that achievement data (ACT scores, course passage rates, GPA, drop out rate) will improve.

Without mastery of those non-cognitive factors that school Counselors are trained to foster for student success, students and schools will never reach their full potential.

School counselors are the key to student achievement, school improvement, college freshman retention rates and thriving, happy and healthy communities.

We don't just guide, we turn dreams into reality and make reality better than our students could have ever dreamed.

We make a big difference every day and the improved test scores are just a small sample of the positive outcomes of our efforts.