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Developing school counselors as change agents for schools of tomorrow

Patricia Cook Nailor, Johnson & Wales University


School reform initiatives aimed at increasing student achievement often overlook an available resource, the school counselor. Research literature indicates that the counselor's role in reform is one of an educator helping to improve the learning climate of the school, the educational performances of students, and the links between schools, families, student services personnel, agencies, businesses and other members of the community (College Board, 1994, Campbell & Dahir, 1997). The research question investigated in this study was: What are the properties of an effective school counseling program, and how can they be used to transform counselors into change agents who facilitate reform? A case study method of research was utilized in this investigation. Triangulation of data provided an abundance of information to conduct the study. The 3 sources of data included (a) written literature, (b) interviews with experts in the field of school counseling, and (c) questionnaires distributed to practicing school counselors. The field study conducted for this investigation utilized 2 types of survey instruments: interviews and questionnaires. Interviews with experts in the field of school counseling provided insight into current thinking about the school counselor's role as it is linked to educational reform. Questionnaires distributed to a convenience sample of practicing school counselors provided insight into the perceptions of school counselors regarding their role in educational reform. The review of literature and the data collected in expert interviews provide a preponderance of evidence regarding the essential properties of school counseling programs that help all students reach higher standards and fulfill the counselor's expanding role in educational reform. The 6 properties that emerged from this study are: (a) roles and responsibilities, (b) standards, (c) program delivery system, (d) evaluation, (e) professional development, and (f) equity and access. Of these 6 properties, 3 (standards, professional development, and equity and access) were found to be unarticulated in existing models. This study demonstrated the importance of expanding the counselor's role and contributing to school reform. A major implication is that districts interested in creating or improving their school counseling program will need to fully address all six properties to be successful.

Subject Area

Academic guidance counseling|School administration

Recommended Citation

Nailor, Patricia Cook, "Developing school counselors as change agents for schools of tomorrow" (1999). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI9941907.