Washington Framework for Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling

Building Bridges

Graduation: A Team Effort (School Counselors Can Play a Key Role)

Our Collective Challenge

In Washington State during the 2008-09 school year, 18, 197 students dropped out of high school.  This trend has remained steady over the last ten years.  These figures clearly indicated the need for coordinated prevention and intervention efforts to keep students engaged in school and on track to graduate from high school.

Program Purpose

The Building Bridges program is to increase academic success and increase graduation rates through active and coordinated participation from schools, parents, and other stakeholders and agencies in the local community.  Existing resources to serve vulnerable youth are extremely limited and must be used more efficiently and effectively when there is significant coordination across local and state entities.  Efficiency and accountability of the K-12 system would be improved by creating a dropout prevention and intervention program that implements research-based and emerging best practices and evaluates results.  The program is to target middle and high school at-risk students (including youth in foster care, youth in the juvenile justice system, and special education students) and dropouts.

Program Components

The “Building Bridges Program” is defined as a local partnership of schools, families, and communities that provides all of the following programs or activities:

  • A system that identifies individual students at risk of dropping out from middle through high school based on local predictive data, including state assessment data starting in the fourth grade, and provides timely interventions for such students and for dropouts, including a student learning plan.
  • Identify their own strengths and gaps in services provided to youth.
  • Use research-based emerging best practices that lead to positive outcomes in implementing the building bridges program.
  • Coordination of community partners serving as a broad-based partnership to provide a seamless continuum of academic and nonacademic support in schools and communities.
  • Retrieval or reentry activities; and
  • Alternative education programming, including, but not limited to, career and technical education exploratory and preparatory programs and online learning opportunities.

State and Regional Roles

Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling

  • Facilitate multi-system, regional action teams.
  • Help coordinate the work of multiple systems that serve vulnerable youth in the school and community.
  • Understand system and policy recommendations and how they relate to the development of a coordinated dropout reduction efforts with a school’s SIP (School Improvement Plan).
  • Serve on one of State Dropout Prevention Workgroup Committees and/or Building Bridges Workgroup to help build the comprehensive student support system to curb the dropout problem.


  • Monitor program implementation.
  • Set data reporting requirements.
  • Disseminate information relative to successful practices.

Educational Service Districts

  • Provide training on dropout early warning and intervention system.
  • Support best practice programming implementation.

State-level work group

  • Identify research-based and emerging best practices regarding prevention, intervention, and retrieval programs.
  • Report to the legislature and the governor on an annual basis with recommendations for implementing emerging best practices, needed additional resources, and eliminating barriers.

For more information

Further information contact Dan Newell, OSPI Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education, dan.newell@k12.wa.us, (360) 725-4954, Dave Forrester, School Counselor, Olympia High School, dforrester@osd.wednet.edu, (360) 596-7032.

Information above provided by The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction: http://www.k12.wa.us

Building Bridges Fact Sheet


Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *