PSD Counseling Program Continues Implementation of the ASCA National Model

PSD counselors have long used best practices and successful models to shape their programs and deliver the best services possible to students, families, and the community. In 2012, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) revised its excellent national model, providing both uniformity and flexibility as counselors work toward helping students overcome barriers to learning and reach their potential. Many schools in our district have been using this model or some of its components for years.   With the revised edition, and with the recent district review of counseling and guidance programs, it is a perfect time to work as a district K-12 counseling team to “kick it up a notch,” as Emeril might say, and take our programs to the next level.


The Puyallup School District has supported counselors in implementing this model by providing training from state experts for both PSD counselors and administrators, copies of the most recent revision, and some limited release time to collaborate and take the next steps. In the 2013-14 school year, the ASCA Model will continue to be a major focus for K-12 counselors district-wide.


So what is it?

The ASCA National Model:

  • Ensures equitable access to a rigorous education for all students
  • Identifies the knowledge and skills all students will acquire as a result of the comprehensive school counseling program
  • Is delivered to all students in a systematic fashion
  • Is based on data-driven decision making
  • Is provided by a state-credentialed school counselor

            (ASCA National Model, third edition, page xii)


The framework consists of four components: foundation, management, delivery, and accountability.


1. Foundation

The foundation is where beliefs, vision, and mission are established. It also includes:

Student Competencies for each of the three domains in which counselors serve students:

  • Academic
  • Career
  • Personal/Social

Professional Competencies outline the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and ethical standards that professional school counselors need to have to best meet student needs.


2. Management

Using data (to evaluate progress, measure results, and determine areas in need of improvement) is a critical piece of the model. Assessments cover the program, counselors, and use of time.

Annual agreements developed with building administrators help set goals and organize program components in each individual building.

Advisory councils made up of students, parents, teachers, school counselors, administrators and community members review and make recommendations about program activities and results.

Based on all of this input, action plans are created to address both prevention and intervention services.

Annual and weekly calendars keep stakeholders informed and encourage participation in the program.


3. Delivery

This is the “show me the money” area: how the services are provided to students, parents, school staff, and the community.

School counseling core curriculum can be classroom lessons, advisory lessons, presentations and small group sessions, etc.

Individual student planning – through ongoing systemic activities, counselors assist students in establishing personal goals and developing future plans.

Responsive services include individual or small-group settings, or crisis response.


4. Accountability

Data is a large component of this component. Counselors can report to their school’s advisory board and share successes, and lessons learned. Collaborating with administration and with the advisory board, counselors then set goals and action plans for the future.


A Counselor’s Perspective

As a high school counselor, I love the model’s focus on reaching ALL students. Based on best practices, it provides a vehicle with which counselors can strive to positively impact each and every student in the school, despite ever-increasing job demands and caseloads.   I appreciate that the program is flexible enough to allow for differences in delivery based on current needs in individual schools and communities.


In the 2012-13 school year, the counselors at ERHS applied for an OSPI grant to further our work in implementing the model. With the grant, we were able to make gains in all four component areas: We collected and evaluated additional data, set program goals based on that data, increased the depth of our delivery system, and established and worked with an advisory board. Throughout our district, counselors at every school are working on similar tasks in the continual quest to provide the best for our students. It is hard, time-consuming, and very much worth the effort. 


As you can see, there are many aspects to the model, and all of them mesh together to create an outstanding system toward which to strive. Most experts say that it takes three to six years to fully implement all aspects of the model.   Even once the model is fully in place, continual evaluation will ensure that both the model and PSD counseling programs continue to adapt to meet the needs of our students.   As we all move through this journey together, there is a lot to be excited about!


Written by:  Heidi Morton, Emerald Ridge High School Counselor