Predicting School Counselors’ Supports and Challenges When Implementing the ASCA National Model

Added May 29, 2018

There is evidence to support the positive impact of Comprehensive School Counseling Programs (CSCP) and student success (Lapan, 2012) and the relationship between leadership practices and school counseling program implementation (Mason, 2010). Despite the benefits of implementing CSCPs, there is limited research (i.e., Mason, 2010) focusing on variables predicting school counselors’ ability to implement the ASCA National Model. The purpose of this study was to investigate the level of ASCA National Model implementation and which variables predicted school counselors’ ability to implement the ASCA National Model.  

This study utilized a national sample of school counselors (N = 252). Participants reported implementing the ASCA National Model at a mean of 70%, as measured by the School Counseling Program Implementation Survey (Clemens, Carey, & Harrington, 2010). Percentage of time spent in non-counseling duties, perceived level of principal support, and principals’ knowledge of school counselors’ appropriate roles were statistically significant predictor variables for school counselors’ ability to implement the ASCA National Model.  

Based upon our study’s results, a key outcome was the influence of principals on ASCA National Model implementation. The school is an operating system in which school the counselor works in tandem with the principal. It is important for school counselors to acknowledge this crucial relationship and work towards increasing principals’ understandings of school counselors’ duties, along with their unique qualifications to meet the social and emotional needs of students, in addition to academic and career needs. In developing collaborations with school principals, school counselors may want to first spend time building a trusting relationship.

In order for school counselors to elicit better student outcomes, they should focus on advocacy activities with their principal primarily in the area of education. In other words, they could teach their principals about the appropriate and inappropriate activities and provide data to support their appropriate duties. To begin the self-advocacy process, the school counselor could provide data demonstrating the effectiveness of the appropriate duties and utilize the Annual Agreement (ASCA, 2012), Use of Time Assessment (ASCA, 2012) and school data collection via the School Data Profile Template as described in the Management Section (ASCA, 2012). For example, in the state of Ohio, the principal – counselor agreement has been included in the counselor performance evaluation system (Ohio Department of Education, 2016). We believe it will make it difficult for principals to make inappropriate requests when they have agreed to the activities and duties required of the counselor to meet performance standards. Even in states or districts where there is no formal requirement for a principal – counselor agreement, counselors could make the request of their principal for an agreement.

Regarding non-counseling duties, it may be helpful for school counselors to consider who may take on some of these duties. For example, if school counselors are the testing coordinator, they may want to consider obtaining a parent volunteer to assist with the basic testing procedures (i.e., filling in bubble sheets). School counselors should consider which stakeholders might be available to complete non-counseling duties. These suggestions require that legal and ethical issues are addressed and in place for volunteer work.

Over time, school counselors will want to inform principals of their duties based upon each system within the ASCA National Model, increase implementation of the ASCA National Model, use data to show accountability, and demonstrate students’ academic successes as a result of the school counseling program (ASCA, 2012). When school counselors use data to inform practices, it may be helpful to include pro-social and meaningful outcomes (i.e., decrease in bullying, decrease in suicide threats, etc. as a result of the school counselor’s interventions). In the age of accountability, to is imperative that school counselors embrace how they accomplish service delivery and resultant program assessment and evaluation. This may be a shift in traditional services delivery (i.e., guidance counselor) to a more evidence-based, data informed curriculum, resulting in measuring student learning outcomes appropriate to the school setting and academic needs of students. This shift will allow school counselors to spend increased time in appropriate school counseling duties as outlined in the ASCA National Model (2012).

Heather J. Fye, PhD, Winona State University, Winona, MN; Lynne Guillot Miller, PhD, Kent State University, Kent, OH; J. Steve Rainey, PhD, Kent State University, Kent, OH.


Heather J. Fye, PhD, Lynne Guillot Miller, PhD, J. Steve Rainey, PhD