Recommendations for Developing an Outstanding Program

"All school counseling programs should help students develop competencies in academic achievement, career planning, and personal/social development." -- ASCA National Standards

  1. Be sure to read The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs, especially chapters 3 and 4. They are important; the entire book is. Click here to learn about the National Model and order your copy.

    The February, 2004 issue of the ASCA School Counselor is highly recommended, especially the article by Eric Sparks and Mary Ellen Taft, "Learn from those who've been there, and you, too, can be well on your way to getting buy-in from the entire district."
  2. Use clusters of student competencies to organize your program. You will notice that the competencies in the Standards overlap, both within and among the academic, career and personal/social areas.

    Knowing what competencies cluster together enables you to be more efficient and effective in planning and implementing your program. You can:
    1. Design an activity to cover several competencies,
    2. Avoid unnecessary duplication,
    3. Reinforce learning in previous activities, and
    4. Use this knowledge to more effectively involve teachers. Click here to learn more about clusters and how to use them.
  3. According to the Standards, the student competencies "are not meant to be all inclusive, nor is any individual program expected to include all of the competencies in the school counseling program." In deciding which competencies to include,
    1. Study your school and district's goals and school improvement plans. Consider how your program can support these? This will help you connect with teachers, administrators and parents; it will strengthen their efforts and yours.
    2. Consider including an emphasis on job skills -- learning what they are, why they are important, the ones every working person must have, and strengthening those that are weak.

      This knowledge is vitally important for all students. For all adults. Read the Free Agent Worker and The Foundation Skills for more on this topic.

      Download and print this 2-page copy of the Foundation Skills at the first page of this module. Counselors or educators may make multiple copies to distribute for nonprofit purposes.
    3. Be realistic in what you can accomplish. The Standards can be overwhelming. Developing a program takes time, teamwork, and experience in learning what works. Limit the number of competencies you include at the beginning. Build a solid foundation of success and expand as you are ready.
  4. Involve parents. They are a powerful resource. Many educators and counselors have praised, the How Parents can Help module. Consider linking parents to this page from your school website. Many use the printed copy in parent education classes and meetings. You can purchase a license to print it at the Career Key Store.

  5. The Career Key® publications are a valuable resource. They represent the best practices and research in the field and are frequently praised by counselors and teachers. You can order and receive them instantly over the Internet at our secure Store.