California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II
Nonacademic interventions, such as counseling, help students learn the social and emotional skills they need for succeeding in relationships with others just as timely academic interventions help students get back on track to attaining grade-level standards (see the section on Interventions in Recommendation 2 for more about academic interventions). Teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, and support staff all play a role in helping students learn appropriate behavior in dealing with others, in coping with disappointments, and in managing anger.
Adolescents come to school with many challenges and dilemmas. Counselors help professional learning community members and after-school staff deal with adolescent issues, including:
Counselors can help school staff members understand how to listen for specific types of problems.
Students need help in expressing their emotions, needs, fears, and other anxieties in non-threatening ways. When they have access to caring adults with whom to share their feelings, they are less likely to act out. Abused or neglected children experience some of the most profound emotions, including those involving suicidal tendencies. California schools, which are legally obliged to report such situations, should have an established system for prompt referrals. The needs of abused and neglected students are complex. Although community agencies can sometimes provide safe havens, such students may still bring with them to school deep, disabling emotions. Caring teachers and counselors are vital in helping these students.1
Richard Henry Dana Middle School, Wiseburn Elementary School District, a 2006 Schools to Watch™-Taking Center Stage 2006 Model School
A full-time counselor works with resource staff to train teachers to recognize students with problems.
A comprehensive school counseling program helps students understand and respect themselves and others so they can be contributing members of the learning community. Counselors also serve as important members on school intervention team meetings.
The California Results-Based School Counseling and Student Support Guidelines (2007) (PDF; 873KB; 85pp.) advocates the use of data to launch a results-based school counseling and student support system. The book lists the four components of a school counseling program: the foundation, a delivery system, a management system, and accountability. In addition, the guidelines include helpful resources in the appendixes.2
Middle grades counselors play a critical role in helping students adjust to middle school life and prepare for high school. Recommendation 6, Transitions, provides two sections about the roles counselors can play in helping to smooth the transition processes. In addition, counselors are important members of each school team as they help students set goals that will shape their middle grades experience in preparation for high school and beyond.
Counselors also reinforce positive behaviors such as helping students set high academic, career, and personal goals. Since mentors are an invaluable resource for middle grades students in helping them with goal setting, self-esteem, and positive behaviors, counselors often coordinate mentor training and oversee the pairing of mentors with students. For more on adult mentors, see the section in Recommendation 5, Relationships.
California developed the Support Personnel Accountability Report Card (SPARC) to provide schools and districts with an accountability structure for their school counseling and guidance programs. Each year, the California Association of School Counselors (CASC) gives Academy Awards to schools with outstanding counseling programs as measured by the SPARC assessment. State Superintendent Jack O’Connell recognizes schools as the Best in the West for having an exemplary program of counseling and student support for three consecutive years.
Granite Oaks Middle School, Rocklin Unified School District, a California Middle Grades Partnership Network School
To help each student succeed, the school faculty has three main goals:
Once each quarter, teaching teams meet with the principal and counselor to talk about each child and to check specifically on the progress of any students who have been struggling. This “checks-and-balances” system helps the faculty to make sure no child slips through the cracks.
Attendance, tardiness, truancy, and the School Attendance Review Board (SARB)
Sexuality and family-life education
1Adapted from Taking Center Stage. Sacramento: California Department of Education, 2001, 208.
2California Results-Based School Counseling and Student Support Guidelines (PDF; 873KB; 85pp.). Sacramento: California Department of Education, 2007.
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California Department of Education
1430 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814