Washington Framework for Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling

The very first step in creating a sound comprehensive guidance and counseling program is to study your school and community context. Schools and communities change frequently—families move, new school leaders and staff are hired, housing developments sprout, businesses expand or close, and demographics shift. Even experienced counselors who think they “know” their environment can be surprised when they study the current context.

A school counseling program has to fit with the needs and priorities of the school so we have to use current information to plan our programs. Here are some important features a school counselor can study through interviews, on-line resources and school documents:

  • Disaggregated testing data
  • Community values and resources
  • Economic and crime statistics
  • Protective features of the community (festivals, faiths, family resources)
  • Educational and apprenticeship opportunities
  • School district mission statements and goals
  • Cultural and language diversity
  • Youth risk factors (pregnancy, drug/alcohol use, delinquency)
  • Mobility rates (how many students move in a given year)
  • Higher education enrollment, employment and drop out rates

Sources to consider in establishing a context for school and community needs might include: