Added July 2, 2018
This study examined the effectiveness of comprehensive school counseling programs recognized by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) with particular interest on career and college readiness of students. Existing data from Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) schools was collected from public data available on the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s website and from NCSchoolWorks, a federated system which houses longitudinal data of students enrolled in North Carolina schools. The investigators established a control group of non-RAMP schools to conduct an analysis of variance with the RAMP schools in North Carolina. Using the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s definition for career and college readiness, the measures in this study were student ability to enroll and be successful in college level coursework without remediation, ACT scores, SAT scores, and Work Key scores. The goal of the project was to investigate the difference between RAMP and non-RAMP schools as it relates to career and college preparation of students.
The study investigated the following main research question: Is there a difference in school-wide college- and career-ready student outcomes between an experimental group of RAMP designated schools and a sample of control schools? To answer this question, the study evaluated the differences in ACT scores, SAT scores, Work Keys assessment scores, and graduates’ ability to enroll and be successful in college level coursework without remediation between the experimental group of RAMP designated schools and the control group of schools.
A MANOVA was used to compare students’ achievement on five measures of academic success between RAMP and non-RAMP schools. The categorical independent variables were RAMP (coded with a 1) and non-RAMP (coded with a 2). The analysis included 11 RAMP school and 30 non-RAMP school from the 2014-2015 academic year. The interval-level dependent variables included student SAT scores, ACT scores, Work Keys scores, EOC scores, and the percent of students enrolled in college. See table 1 for descriptive statistics. The research question tested was: Is there a difference in school-wide college- and career-ready student outcomes between an experimental group of RAMP designated schools and a sample of control schools?
Table 1--Descriptive Statistics for Sample of RAMP and non-RAMP Schools During 2014-15 School Year
|Percent CCR on ACT||RAMP||000.678||000.163|
|Percent CCR on Work Keys||RAMP||000.812||000.107|
|Percent CCR on EOC||RAMP||000.558||000.147|
|Percent Enrolled in College||RAMP||000.580||000.099|
Note: CCR=College and Career Ready
The variables under investigation in this study are linked to positive student outcomes and college and career readiness. In some instances, these factors are tied to state definitions of career and college readiness. In North Carolina, there is consistent commitment to college and career readiness. The hypothesis that expected differences in school-wide college- and career-ready student outcomes between an experimental group of RAMP designated schools and a sample of control schools was supported by the research findings. To answer this question, the study evaluated the differences in American College Testing (ACT) scores, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, Work Keys assessment scores, and graduates’ ability to enroll and be successful in college level coursework without remediation between the experimental group of RAMP designated schools and the control group of schools.
The present study contributes to the RAMP program literature by providing evidence that supports the positive contribution of RAMP status to student college and career readiness. The research results align with the following observations by O’Connor (2018) regarding the critical differences school counselors can make in students’ lives: School counselors have a long record of working effectively with students, parents, fellow educators, and community members to create new paths of learning, achievement, and self-discovery. While much of this work is done behind the scenes, it has been empirically shown to make a difference in the lives of our students and our schools. More important, that difference resides in the hearts and minds of students who are leading stronger, healthier lives, thanks to the school counselor who supported them and showed them more of what their lives could be.
As research continues to support the benefits of RAMP designation in schools, school counselors will have more data to demonstrate the impact of purposeful school counseling programs to school and district administrators. As counselors continue to be inundated with other duties as assigned by supervisors, it is imperative to demonstrate the individual and systemic impact of school counselors who are devoted to career and college readiness. RAMP designation and career and college readiness student outcomes are positively correlated; therefore, a commitment to increasing the number of RAMP schools and supporting more and college readiness efforts could prove to be advantageous for all.
Shenika Jones, Ph.D., Jeffrey M. Warren, Ph.D., Gary W. Mauk, Ph.D., and Jonathan Ricks, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Pembroke
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