Leadership Practices Linked to Involvement in School–Family–Community Partnerships: A National Study

Added April 20, 2018

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships between involvement in school-family-community partnerships and school counselor leadership dimensions, along with previously identified school and school counselor factors in studies of school counselor partnership involvement. This study utilized the School Counselor Leadership Survey [SCLS] (Young & Bryan, 2015) to measure the leadership practices and the School Counselor Involvement in Partnerships Survey [SCIPS] (Bryan & Holcomb-McCoy, 2007; Bryan & Griffin, 2010; Bryan & Young, 2017) to measure involvement in partnerships and the school context and school counselor factors. The research question that guided the study was: What school counselor leadership practices are related to school counselor involvement in school-family-community partnerships, above and beyond previously identified school context and school counselor factors?

Participants in this study were members from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). Approximately 18,000 school counselors were sent an email outlining the purpose of the survey, informed consent, instructions, and a link to the web-based survey links. Six hundred and eighteen school counselors and district supervisors gave consent and completed the survey, which constituted a 3.4% response rate. Of the 618 participants, 546 were school counselors and 72 were district directors. Only data from the 546 school counselors were utilized in this study.

The authors conducted a hierarchical multiple regression to determine whether school counselor leadership practices were related to school counselor involvement, above and beyond the previously identified school and school counselor variables. The findings suggest that most counselors engage in some form of partnership activity with 47% who consider themselves as somewhat engaged in partnerships activities and about 19% who consider themselves as frequently or very frequently engaged in partnership activities. Just over a third (34%) of school counselors regard themselves as rarely or never involved in partnership activities. This study’s findings provide some interesting insights about the specific school counselor leadership dimensions that are linked to school counselors’ involvement in school-family-community partnerships.

The findings also have key implications for school counselors, school counselor supervisors, and school principals. For example, findings indicate that school counselors who wish to engage in building strong school-family-community partnerships to deliver programs and services to their students are more likely to do so if they a) develop a systemic collaboration mindset and adopt a collaborative based approach to running their school counseling programs; b) build their self-efficacy related specifically to developing partnerships, and c) encourage and advocate for a collaborative school climate and principal expectations that are conducive to engagement in partnerships. The findings further suggest that school counselors who are involved in partnerships function more as collaborative leaders or systemic collaborators in schools. Their ability to lead school-family-community partnerships can be strengthened through collaborative engagement with stakeholders and enhancing their individual self-efficacy about their roles in school-family-community partnerships. As collaborative leaders, school counselors are able to participate at decision-making tables such as principal leadership teams, faculty advisory councils and student support teams. They can also broaden their principal’s knowledge about the impactful outcomes of partnerships while simultaneously building sustainable partnerships.

Julia Bryan, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University; Anita Young Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University; Dana Griffin Ph.D., University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Ph.D., American University.


Julia Bryan, PhD, Anita Young, PhD, Dana Griffin, PhD, Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, PhD