Evaluation of a School District’s Secondary Counseling Program.
In this age of accountability, all facets of public education are undergoing scrutiny. High-stakes testing, a perceived increase in violence in schools, and tighter budgets combine to heighten both awareness and anxiety of parents, legislators, and other school patrons. School counseling programs, like every aspect of the public schools, are receiving close attention from the public and calls for accountability and evaluation of these programs can be expected to increase. Evaluation of school counseling programs is not an advent of the millennium. School counselors have long been exhorted to evaluate their programs and to account for their time and effectiveness (Perusse, Goodnough, & Noel, 2001). In his influential book Guidance and Counseling in the Schools, Herr (1979) asserted that guidance programs “… should contain goals, objectives, activities, and student outcomes” (p. 141) and “… some evaluation should be included each year with periodic evaluation of the total program” (p. 142). Lombana (1985) noted that individual school counselors may be prevented from developing evaluations by time constraints, lack of knowledge of evaluation procedures, and anxiety regarding the possible outcomes. An externally based evaluation is of use to time-constrained practitioners whose expertise may not be evaluation. However, Hogan (1998) advocated involvement of the counselors in evaluation of their own programs as a way of keeping the counselor involved in students’ daily lives. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA, 1998) addresses the issue of evaluation in Ethical Standard D1.e by advocating that school counselors “… assist in the development of … a systematic evaluation process for comprehensive school counseling programs, services, and personnel. The counselor is guided by the findings of the evaluation data in planning programs and services.” However, counselors may lack the time, the education, or the credibility to conduct their own program evaluations, especially if the competence or expertise of the counselors themselves is an issue in the evaluation.