Washington Framework for Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling

Comprehensive School Counseling Programs in the U.S.

Guidance and counseling programs in the United States were first established to help students find jobs. As the profession developed in the mid-20th Century, school counselors were also called on to provide mental health services, fill administrative roles, and respond to a variety of political initiatives designed to promote particular career pathways (ASCA, 2005). Over the years, the diverse duties assigned to school counselors led to role confusion within the profession and in the eyes of the stakeholders who worked with counselors.

Recognizing a critical problem, prominent leaders in the late 1990s such as Norman Gysbers and national organizations including the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and Transforming School Counseling Initiative (TSCI) coalesced around an initiative to sharpen the professional focus of guidance and counseling programs. First, content standards were written to define student competencies in the areas of academic, career, and personal/social development. The resulting document called “Sharing the Vision: The National Standards for School Counseling Programs” was published by ASCA in 1997 (Campbell & Dahir, 1997). Within a few years, a landmark document, “The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs” (ASCA, 2003) emerged through a collaborative effort to create a vision and define “best practice” for all school counselors. Currently, the ASCA National Model unifies the profession around the goal of, “One Vision, One Voice.”

ASCA National Model

A CGCP is a competency-based programmatic approach to school counseling and associated educational units (e.g., career, technical, nurses, school psychologists) which is designed to be

  • multi-systemic (school, home, and community)
  • collaborative (educators, families, community members)
  • developmental (aimed at helping students at their particular developmental level)
  • proactive and prevention-minded (supports students before crisis)
  • accountable to the stakeholders, and
  • educationally focused (helps students to reach educational, career, and personal-social goals)

By the late 1990s, this programmatic view had become the most widely used organizational framework for the profession endorsed by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA, 2005) and state school counselor organizations. Currently, ASCA’s National Model for comprehensive school guidance and counseling programs is the framework that Washington state’s CGCP is in large part fashioned upon.

Comprehensive School Counseling Programs in Washington State

Much of the history of guidance and counseling in Washington State is embedded in the accomplishments of current and former guidance and counseling professionals and their counselor educators. Several initiatives have emerged to inform and guide current efforts to create this current statewide framework, based on the ASCA National Model.

A Guide for Counseling and Guidance Services in Washington State Public Schools (1988)

This guide was developed as a collaborative effort on the part of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), a committee of school counselors, counselor supervisors, counselor educators, and school principal organization representatives. “This document was developed to assist school districts in planning comprehensive counseling and guidance services, implementing these services across all grade levels, and conducting evaluations/self study of these services” (p. 3).

Washington State Guidelines for Comprehensive Counseling and Career Guidance Programs From Kindergarten Through Community and Technical College (1998)

This guide served to inform hundreds of schools throughout Washington, in their development of comprehensive school guidance and counseling programs. It’s development included over 118 counselors, career guidance specialists, counselor educators, as well as other stakeholders. This guide is notable for being the first widely-distributed framework to articulate a K-14 seamless, comprehensive guidance and counseling program, as well as being the first state to integrate competencies developed by the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development.

Navigation 101

A third major development in support for comprehensive guidance and counseling took place with the adoption of the Comprehensive Guidance and Planning legislation ( RCW 28A.600.045) in 2006. This legislation encourages each middle school, junior high school, and high school to implement a comprehensive guidance and planning program for all students. The stated purpose of the program is to support students as they navigate their education and plan their future; encourage an ongoing and personal relationship between each student and an adult in the school; and involve parents in students’ educational decisions and plans.

The funding of this initiative, now known as Navigation 101, was the result of a single school district (Franklin Pierce) linking with others to develop strong elements of guidance and counseling. The guidance curriculum and individual planning components were embraced by the legislature and funded. OSPI has continued to broaden this legislative initiative to by funding development of comprehensive guidance and counseling programs within these grantee schools.

Navigation 101 provides a tool (advisory) for introducing classroom guidance through lessons designed to help students plan for their high school years as well as life after high school (postsecondary education or the world of work).

Road Map

To move forward in implementing CGCPs, the Washington School Counselor Association (WSCA) developed a “Road Map” in late 2007. The Road Map was intended to, “transform school counseling activities, services, and interventions in Washington schools into a clearly defined and systematic comprehensive, competency-based program that focuses on positive student academic, personal-social, and career-life development.”

The Road Map outlines benefits to key groups and identifies stakeholders who can become engaged with the process. In addition, the Road Map refers to Navigation 101, which it identifies as one potential way to implement important facets of a CGCP, provided Navigation can be expanded and enriched so as to fully incorporate all of the components of a CGCP. For more information on the roadmap, contact http://k12.wa.us/.