Role of the Counselor in Testing and Assessment 
Obtain information from a variety of sources; including, the ASCA National Model, textbooks, state and local school district websites, and counseling resource sites. Need sections outlined below, 8 pages, not including the title page, reference page. APA 6th edition standards.
Also, please include the following:
1. Historical Perspectives concerning the nature and meaning of assessment and testing in counseling.
2. Identify various assessments that are administered at the elementary, middle, and high school levels to address academic/educational, career, personal, and social development (i.e. CogAT, Dibels, End of Course Exams, IQ tests, State Achievement Assessment, AP exams, etc.) Include information from Department of Education and school district websites that address counselor role in testing and assessment.
3. Review ASCA National Model recommendations for the school counselor role in testing and assessment, compare with the information you research from the interview and websites, and provide recommendations on proper use of the school counselor in testing and assessment.
4. Summarize the role of the school counselor/services offered in administering assessments, interpreting assessments, sharing results with stakeholders, and follow-up activities/procedures.

 

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Answer:

 

Historical Perspectives concerning the nature and meaning of assessment and testing in counseling

The practice of assessment involves the process of gathering information for the purpose of identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and addressing, issues, problems, and environments of participants in a counseling relationship. In most sessions, assessment is used when a counselor wants to identifying complications, plan on how to intervene, valuing and understand the needs of their clients, and informing clients and other involved stakeholders. For the purpose of this paper, an assessment will be regarded as a key instrument applicable in all counseling elements. Thus, assessment plays a major role irrespective of the counseling setting such as in schools, private sector, agencies, and in most r healthcare settings.  Moreover, it goes beyond the implementation of identified measures by involving practices such as identifying the problem, engagements, and actions intended to help people, as well as groups so they can make progress. Therefore, even though professional counselors are allowed to limit their scope of practice in relation to modalities, principles, and types of clients, they cannot function without understanding counseling assessment processes and procedures. Thus, the main intention of focus of assessment involves information gathering information (Florida Department of Education, 2010).

Testing, on the other hand, denotes the measurement of psychological construct using instruments or identified procedures. In this regards, a construct denotes an existing phenomenon but that which cannot be seen directly.  To these end, both processes (assessing, and testing) are necessary when evaluating a client. However, many scholars agree that differentiating both terms involves an academic standing. Nonetheless, both terms can be used interchangeably because the testing process (administration, recording, and understanding an instrument) cannot be disjointed from assessment.

However, there is a distinction concerning standardized and non-standardized assessment approaches. Standardized assessment denotes a formal process with a specific set of guidelines and rules linked to administration, scoring, and interpretations are consistently followed to ensure accurate outcomes over a timed period and across populations. It, therefore, involves tools developed through a rigorous process and yields outcomes that are general to a population. To this end, instruments including; success tests, ability tests, and character tests are largely used. On the other end, non-standardized assessment is the process of collecting data but does not involve or applying firm sets of rules and guidelines. Thus, even with the existence of formula or defined patterns, deviations in administrations is commonly owing to the personal nature of the interactions as professionals address their client’s personal needs. In most cases, it involves activities such as clinical interviews among others. Under non-standardized assessments, professionals are allowed to observe an inflexible administration, recording, and understanding an instrument.

History of Assessment

The idea of testing and measurement are active concepts, especially under social sciences. For instance, in China public officers were issued a compulsory examination every third year by the Chinese as early as in the 2200 B.C.E. Although these assessments involved examinations in areas such as archery, riding abilities, the composition of poetry, elements of the military, and civil law, it was a means of evaluating the ability of these public officers. Precisely, the foundation for modern testing started in the 19th Century with a renowned biologist, Charles Darwin and Sir Francis Galton. Darwin’s input is identifiable through had two significant influences on assessment namely; he linked human development to animals, and it is on this base that he proposed using animals to understand human behavior. The other influence is the concept of individual variances that result from children- parent relationship, which resulted to the concept of heredity (Gladding, 1978).

On his part, Galton alleged that anything is measurable. Accordingly, this belief is very significant in today’s assessment practices, as the professionals seek to evaluate practices that are not unswervingly observable, such as emotional states of a patient. However, Galton failed to identify a connection between physical traits to mental capacities. Thus, under his concept he believes that at times “knowing where not to look for answers is as central as knowing where to find answers”. Hence, Galton invented a standardized way to collect data and recording the outcomes- this way created what is today recognized as the greatest influence on assessment practices.

Various Assessments that are administered at the Elementary, Middle, and High School Levels

Realizing about the nation’s trends, state involvement, and outcome of research, the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) publicized counseling standards for the nation’s schools. The ASCA underlines the role of the school counselor through the parameters of the prevailing standards in the curriculum, in addition to the expertise and proficiencies that counselors require so that they can effectively implement the curriculum. Moreover, terminologies have been updated in the current Framework with the intention of capturing the active changes being seen in the field, for instance, modern practices and trends for active school counselors. Thus, these new standards are reflective of the national, regional, state, and organizational perception on education. To this end, school counselors must; include all students, demonstrate their responsibility as student advocates, and show a level of accountability for improving student learning (Whiston, 2009).

The counseling initiative is founded on the notion that most national and societal problems can be mitigated through early intervention and preventive measures. Thus, programs of counseling established in learning institutions exposes students to opportunities that enable them to understand themselves and others better before they experience problems due to issues of self- impression. For instance, counseling has been framed to start as early as at the elementary level where they are introduced to interpersonal skills before they experience a social crisis. Thus, during such events, they are able to address emerging challenges by effectively addressing and managing their emotional and social skills for the purpose of achieving optimum benefits from their educational program (Falconer, 2014).

Policymakers have recognized the significance of individuality and maximum development in four key areas namely; personal and social, academic, career, and community and global involvement. In this regards, the school counseling profession has been designed over many decades to react to prevailing social, economic and political changes in the society. Moreover, the role of school counselors have been shaped by changing demographics, family structures, growing communication structures, technology advancement, and most importantly, bot federal and state laws and how they relate to educational expectations and the well-being of children.  These issues, and the lack of stability of school counselor functions both at national and state e levels, have necessitated the need for standardizing school counseling programs so that it can remain effective and relevant in today’s learning environment (Wright, 2009).

The role of a school counselor in enhancing student to successfully grow is mainly focused on three broad areas namely; educational, occupation and private and social development. Academic goals hold that every student must accomplish the set curriculum goals at all levels of governance (local, state and national). As such, these goals have been put in place to give direction to the counseling program, offer a foundation for skills to be gained, attitudes, and knowledge that helps students to successfully make a transition from school environments to the employment environment. Similarly, the set occupation development goals and proficiencies support pupils as they advance their career goals after participating in an inclusive training of career sentience, and search. Finally, the personal/social development goals direct the school counseling program so that it effectively provides the establishment for personal and social development as students’ go through the education phase of life. It is through the personal/social development that pupils can comprehend and respect themselves and others, gain operative social skills, gain survival skills and grow as effective and functional members of society (Butcher, 2010).

Therefore, school counseling program should be comprehensive regarding its scope, preventative as a policy, and it should be naturally developmental. For instance, the Florida’s School Counseling Framework that heavily borrows from the ASCA National Model was created to mirror a broad methodology to management, program source, distribution, and accountability. This ensures that the program guarantees that every student receives its benefits. Moreover, it is expected that the outcome of a school counseling programs should be learning. Such programs must address anything that disturbs a student’s learning ability, and ensure that student excel. Thus, even as the program addresses other issues including; communal and individual adjustment, learning and occupational planning, and development and human growth, and outcome is strongly justified by how these effects boost education (ASCA, 2014).

To sum it up, the following forms the key content of assessment under a school counseling programs:

  • Study and test-taking skills
  • Resource exploitation skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Learning and occupation planning skills
  • Self-esteem and self-knowledge
  • Social skills
  • Communication skills
  • Career awareness, exploration and employability skills
  • Leadership and conflict resolving skills
  • Individual responsibility and community involvement(ASCA, 2014)

Primarily, school counselors recognize the issuance of standardized test as one to the benchmarks for student success. Therefore, it is their role to reject issuance of high-stakes tests or using a single instrument to determine the student ability. There should, therefore, encourage the use of compound measures to make their assessment of a student’s success (School Counselor, 2014).

ASCA National Model recommendations for the school counselor role in testing and assessment

The Florida School Counseling Framework features fifteen programs standards that are informed by the ASCA structure whose key tenets include: foundation, management, delivery, and accountability. To ensure its success, counselors must stick to the federal and state recommendations for the creation and implementation of every school counseling initiative. Thus, such programs are founded on the criteria that they should be inclusive and ensure uniformity in all programs from school to school and among districts. An inclusive school counseling program must be well integrated into the institution’s academic mission. Moreover, it must be propelled by student information and founded on educational, vocational and individual and social development standards, as well as promote and enhance every student’s learning process.  Thus, the ASCA National Model:

  • guarantees that all students can access rigorous education equitably
  • delineates the abilities and knowledge to be acquired by students enrolled to the program
  • must be conveyed to learners in a methodical approach
  • Should be centered on data-based decision-making
  • Should be conducted by a school counselor who is certified by the state  (School Counselor, 2014)

To this end, an effective school counseling programs should include all players including; the school counselor, parents, and other educators so that they can build an atmosphere that supports learner success. Similarly, educational counselors should be receptive and considerate of the variations among their clients as well as the diversity that exists within their area of practice.  Moreover, school counselors are expected to  direct their expertise, time and energy on both  providing  all-inclusive services to the learners.  Based on this the ASCA recommends that the best and most functional school counseling program should constitute a counselor to student ratio should be one for every two hundred and fifty students.  Further, it holds that school counselors should spend nearly 80% or more of their time interacting either directly or indirectly with their clients. This is in recognition that school counselors should be integrated as members of the educational team so that they can effectively apply their leadership skills, advocacy, and partnership to promote suitable outcomes.

Finally, the ASCA National Model recommendations for the school counselor role in testing and assessment include:

  • Ensuring suitable testing conditions and issuance of standardized tests
  • Give advice on the significance of retaking a test in case a student is unable to attend to the one issued.
  • Advice on the admission of a comparable test in case a student is unsuccessful in an original test.
  • Administer a standardize tests model referenced with all student populations
  • Advice on discontinuation of standardized tests that is biased or discriminatory.

Summary of the roles of a school counselor

Fundamentally, the school counselor is tasked with the role of inspiring, supporting, and nurturing progressive educational, vocational, social, and individual growth for all learners within a school. For instance, in Florida, counselors assist learners as well as the learning institutions through several ways: offer individual counseling and advice with the intention of helping students to create individual goals and generate future plans; deliver academic advice in the areas such as, selection of courses, admission requirements for postsecondary school, and guidance on study skill just to mention a few. Other duties include; consultation, student appraisal, assists parents, problem-solving or response to intervention and career development. Hence, they are mandated to participate in the creation of curriculums for the wholesome development of learners. These curricula feature structured modules positioned to support learners realize/ attain the ideal skills as well as to equip the learners with awareness suitable for their development (Perera-Diltz & MacCluskie, 2013).

With regard to tests and assessments, the school counselor is generally tasked with the responsibility of administering exams and acting as test facilitators.  Despite this, the counselor is expected to take a more expanded an active role in improving student achievement. This ism accomplished by identifying low achievers and developing individualized counseling plans that can help the student make improvements. The counselor can hold individualized or group sessions where he or she converses with the students regarding their past and present performance to identify the factors or deficiencies affecting their academic achievement. Notably, the counselor can form study skills groups that help learners to deal with their deficient areas prior to taking the test. Further, the counselor is required to involve the educators and parents regarding the performance of a student. Educators in many cases are unaware of previously identified areas of deficiency or non-proficiency. As such, it is crucial for the counselor to communicate with both the teacher and parents to formulate the best approach for helping the student excel.

However, school counselors encounter a major challenge in the form of a progressively multicultural and diverse learner population not only in Florida schools but America. Although the educators have made huge strides in addressing the ever-changing demographics and accompanying multicultural issues within the school environment, existing counseling services are not representative of the best approaches to learners, their kin and the society as a whole. It is, therefore, imperative that educational counselors apprise their expertise and knowledge to include culturally diverse psychotherapy as part of their professional growth. Hence, counselors should collaborate with other stakeholders and policy makers in the education sector to eliminate any doubt as to the validity of any given exception. More so they should be well conversant with current state and federal policies, laws, and ethical criteria so that they can adequately offer services to learners.

 

References

ASCA . (2014). ASCA National Model: A Framework For School Counseling Programs. Retrieved Jan 15th, 2016, from http://schoolcounselor.org/ascanationalmodel/media/anm-templates/anmexecsumm.pdf

Butcher, J. (2010). Personality assessment from the nineteenth to the early twenty-first century: Past achievements and contemporary challenges. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 6, 1–20.

Falconer, M. (2014). Comprehensive School Counseling: A Guide to Comprehensive School Counseling Program Development. Saint Lucie, Florida: Saint Lucie County School District.

Florida Department of Education. (2010). Florida’ s School Counseling Framework. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Department of Education.

Gladding, S. (1978). In the Midst of the Puzzles and Counseling Journey,”. Personnel and Guidance Journal, 57, 148.

Perera-Diltz, D., & MacCluskie, K. (2013). The Counselor Educator’s Survival Guide: Designing and Teaching Outstanding Courses in Community Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling. London: Routledge.

School Counselor. (2014). The School Counselor and High-Stakes Testing. Retrieved Jan 15, 2016, from School Counselor: https://www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/PositionStatements/PS_High-StakesTesting.pdf

Whiston, S. (2009). Principles and applications of assessment in counseling (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Wright, R. (2009). Multifaceted Assessment for Early Childhood Education. UK: SAGE.

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