It is important that school counselors understand the perceptions of students, parents, and staff regarding student population needs. Assessing these perceptions will allow school counselors to gain a better picture of hot topics that may need to be addressed by the school counseling program. Further, collecting and utilizing the perceptions and beliefs of key stakeholders may greatly enhance school counseling program design, implementation, and stakeholder buy-in.
Clearly defining guidance and counseling goals allows the school counselor to focus efforts on agreed upon issues. Goals are determined after careful consideration of collected data. Ideally, the goals are created in collaboration with key stakeholders, such as the Advisory Team, the Data-Based Decision-Making Team, or the School Improvement Planning Team. Schools should consider including guidance and counseling goals in the School Improvement Plan.
Effective school guidance and counseling programs use multiple sources of data to determine the needs of the students in a building and/or district. The following are data sources that can be collected to gain a fuller picture of where students are and where you want them to be:
Creating a team to compile data and make school counseling program decisions based on data has some significant advantages. First, by relying on a team of diverse members, the school counselor gains insight into issues that they may miss if working alone. Second, including voices from stakeholder groups can greatly improve buy-in making implementation easier. Third, the impact of the program may be larger.