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4 Questions 4 Alma Powell, Chair America's Promise Alliance
Alma Powell chairs the America's Promise Alliance, an organization whose founding chair was General Colin Powell, her husband. America's Promise Alliance is a cross-sector partnership of more than 300 corporations, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and advocacy groups that are passionate about improving lives and changing outcomes for children.
The organization has made a top priority of ensuring that all young people graduate from high school ready for college, work and life. A critical part of that initiative is the recently launched Grad Nation Campaign. The Alliance is also actively engaged in raising awareness, encouraging action, and engaging in advocacy to provide children the key supports they call the Five Promises: Caring Adults, Safe Places, a Healthy Start, an Effective Education, and Opportunities to Help Others.
Question: What are the goals of the Grad Nation Campaign?
Grad Nation is a 10-year initiative of America's Promise Alliance (the Alliance) focused on mobilizing Americans from all walks of life and sectors to cut the high school dropout rate. Our specific goal is to see that 90% of today's fourth graders graduate high school on time. Grad Nation is the next phase of the dropout prevention work the Alliance has been engaged in for some time. For the past 2 years we've been convening Dropout Prevention Summits across the country with the goal of completing one in all 50 states and in the 55 cities with the greatest dropout rates.
By harnessing the momentum from our Summits and the awareness we've raised about the dropout crisis, we can turn our attention to implementing these action plans and use what we've learned to target those 2,000 high schools in the country and their surrounding communities that are responsible for half of all dropouts in the country.
The dropout crisis isn't something we're going to solve overnight--. This is more of a marathon than a sprint. But if we focus on these schools and on instituting what we've learned, we can make a difference. One of the best ways to do this is by measuring benchmark indicators – like pre-school enrollment to eighth grade math and science scores and more. By doing this we can better identify those students at risk and we can track our progress to ensure we're on the road to success.
The number one indicator of whether a young person succeeds or not is whether they have a high school diploma. The success of our children and our nation are not two separate goals, they are intertwined. This is why the Alliance sees resolving this crisis as a priority. We also feel we are uniquely positioned to mobilize our 375 national partners and their local affiliates in thousands of communities to create powerful, cross-sector efforts throughout the country.
Question: What role do you foresee for professional school counselors?
Schools counselors are essential. These are often the individuals who are helping student's bridge their academic and personal lives and can be invaluable in helping us identify those students who are at risk for dropping out. Because of this access and knowledge, they can be incredibly helpful in recommending programming and resources that will help schools, communities, and parents support students better.
Question: Currently, the average student to school counselor ratio in the nation's schools is 467:1, almost double the recommended 250:1. Counselors are overstretched and often called upon to handle administrative and other duties that take them away from serving students. Would the Alliance support increasing the numbers of professional school counselors to address issues like the achievement gap, the dropout crisis and help students become college and career ready?
The Alliance believes that if we are going to solve the dropout crisis it is going to take the will and involvement of all Americans. Each individual and sector—whether you have a connection with your local school or not—is impacted by students dropping out and therefore own a stake in helping solve it. Whether your reasons are economically driven—dropouts from the class of 2008-09 will cost the nation $335 billion in lost wages over their lifetimes—or morally driven, students who drop out are more than eight times as likely to end up in prison or jail, we have to all ask ourselves what we can do to help our children stay in school and graduate. High quality teachers, school administrators, and counselors are a key component to this and should be given the resources they need to best serve our students. And where our schools cannot effectively serve our children the way they should, then the community should come in to help provide those supports.
Question: Nearly half of the nation's dropouts are generated by just 12% of the nation's high schools. What needs to happen in these schools to improve graduation rates?
These are the 2,000 schools I reference above. In order for our young people to succeed academically, we must pay as much attention to what happens outside the classroom as inside. These schools are often emblematic of the struggles of their communities, which means challenges like poverty, crime-ridden neighborhoods and fewer resources and experienced teachers. When we focus on these schools, we must also look at their feeder middle and elementary schools and the community at large. The reality is that our kids aren't showing up in the 9th grade and deciding to drop out. They've been on a path heading in this direction for some time.
We need to make these schools a hub of learning. This means ensuring that the entire community feels like they have a stake in its success, and that there are multiple pathways for graduation—traditional high school, alternative, and recovery schools. Preventing dropout is important, but we also have to bring back those students who've already left and that's especially important in these 2,000 schools. New York City Public Schools have a very successful multiple pathways program that allows its at-risk students a variety of options to get their diploma, be it night school, school-internship model or other; it meets these students and their personal situations half way.
We also need to make sure there are systems in place to catch the students in these schools before they leave, and that's where these benchmarks I mentioned before come into place. Whether it's from reading or math scores, truancy or attendance rates, we can identify those students who are most at risk for leaving school well before they enter high school. By tracking these indicators we can create safety nets and systems that catch these students before it's too late. These are essential for these 2,000 schools and their communities.
NCAA Upgrades Student Eligibility Center
Everything you need to know about student athlete eligibility at the collegiate level is available at an enhanced website developed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. As a school counselor, you can also sign up for a regular newsletter designed to keep you abreast of policy changes, eligibility submission requirements, and other information.
NCAA Student Eligibility Center:
New Edition of ACA School Counselor Certification Report Available
A new edition of A Guide to State Laws & Regulations on Professional School Counseling is now available. The 2010 edition provides the latest information on state certification/licensure requirements and counseling mandates for each state, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Members can obtain free copies by contacting Member Services at 800-347-6647, x222 or click on the link below. The non-member cost is $10.
The findings provide strong evidence that inattention symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in childhood and depression in adolescents are linked to the number of years of completed schooling. The authors point to potentially significant benefits from childhood and adolescent mental health interventions as positively influencing levels of educational attainment. In their study, the team introduces a new research design they call a "genetic lottery" identification strategy, based on the fact that at conception there are differences in genetic inheritance among siblings.
Click the link below and scroll down to "Members-only Report."
Worth Reading: The Sting of Being Labeled a "Low Achieving" School
Patrick Welsh, a teacher at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA, took to the opinion and editorial pages of The Washington Post to express his personal feelings, and those of his educator colleagues, in being identified as a "persistently low achieving" school, a new label being used by Virginia and the U.S. Department of Education to identify the lowest performing 5% of schools with certain demographic similarities.
Adding to the poignancy of Welsh's message is the fact that in 1984 T.C. Williams earned the Excellence Award of the Department of Education and in 1988 had the highest number of National Merit Scholarship finalists in the state. Welsh talks about the reaction of students, staff, and administrators to the fall from grace and how they hope to use the situation as a "wake up" call to enact necessary reforms.
Best Seller Offers Successful Ways to Work with Students
Solution-Focused Counseling in Schools, Second Edition
2008 | 280 pages
Report Highlights Importance of School Counseling
The Public Agenda report,
Dr. Linde welcomed the report's focus on the need to improve student-to-counselor ratios, reduce school counselors' non-counseling duties, and improve the quality of counseling services. "It is very easy to criticize school counseling or any other component of our education system," Dr. Linde wrote; "what is harder, yet absolutely essential for the future of our country, is investing time and energy into finding out how to make it better."
This is just one piece of ACA's continued work to support school counseling and improve the nation's education system. To this end, please e-mail to Dominic Holt your data and stories about how school counseling services help students. Thank you!
Facts for Families: AACAP Information Series on Children and Youth
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry developed the Facts for Families series to provide concise and up-to-date information on issues that affect children, teenagers, and their families. The informative online library contains 96 titles focusing on such concerns as bedwetting, hair pulling, children and television, and the death of a pet. Each title in the series is available in English and seven other languages.
ACA New Orleans Conference Online Call for Programs is Now Live
The online Call for Programs for the ACA 2011 Conference & Exposition, March 23-27, in New Orleans is now live and ready to accept your proposal. The submission deadline is June 2, 2010 at 5pm ET.
ACA has specific interest in these topics for 2011: Disaster mental health, social media, military members and their families, and the Revised DSM (DSM-V). ACA is also actively seeking advanced programs in all topics.
The Call is for Pre-conference Learning Institutes and regular conference Education Sessions.
Pre-Conference Learning Institutes
Note: Class sizes for 90- and 60-minute programs are based on room capacity. Complete details at
Child Homelessness: A State by State Report Card
The finding that more than 1.5 million children are homeless over the course of a year shocked the nation. This represents 1 in every 50 children annually. In response, the National Center on Family Homelessness launched the Campaign to End Child Homelessness in 2009 with the release of America's Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness. The campaign has posted a state-by-state report card, including links to an overview of state efforts to address the problem.
ACA Member Comments on School Counselor's Role in Child Abuse
ACA Member and George Washington University Assistant Professor Dr. Sam Steen was interviewed live this week on In Session (formerly Court TV), a program that airs gavel to gavel coverage of court cases on truTV. On trial in 'MI v Springer' are the parents of a teenager who died following alleged child abuse. The teenager had reported abuse to school counselors and wrote about her torture in a journal that school officials read. The InSession producer contacted ACA looking for a school counselor who could discuss the protocols and responsiblities of a school counselor in situations such as these.
CEP Report Shows Gender Changes in Achievement Gap
A new report from the Center on Education Policy (CEP) finds that girls now perform as well as boys on state math tests, but boys consistently trail girls on state reading tests. Researchers examined math and reading tests given in all 50 states between 2002 and 2008, focusing on differences in actual scores as well as proficiency levels between genders at grades 4, 8, 10 and 11.
Common Application Accepted at 414 Colleges and Universities
The number of colleges accepting the Common Application has grown to 414, according to The Common Application, a nonprofit membership group. Evidence that the Common Application is becoming more popular at flagship public universities was supported by the new memberships of the University of Michigan and the University of Connecticut and the increase to 47 in the overall number of public institutions. A record 1.4 million college-bound students used the Common Application to apply for the 2009-2010 academic year.
Quotable Quotes of Notable People – Jaime Escalante, Teacher Extraordinaire
"There will be no free rides, no excuses. You already have two strikes against you: your name and your complexion. Because of those two strikes, there are some people in this world who will assume that you know less than you do. "Math" is the great equalizer. When you go for a job, the person giving you that job will not want to hear your problems; ergo, neither do I. You're going to work harder here than you've ever worked anywhere else. And the only thing I ask from you is ganas (Desire)."
Jaime Escalante, was a Bolivian-born American teacher who earned distinction for his extraordinary work as a math and science teacher at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. Mr. Escalante, who was profiled in the 1988 film, Stand and Deliver, passed away on March 30, 2010.
Varied Grants Aimed at Educators and Educational Projects
School counselors may find financial support for professional and program development activities in the following active grant opportunities:
ING Unsung Heroes
The ING Unsung Heroes awards program recognizes innovative and progressive thinking in education through monetary awards. Maximum award: $25,000. Eligibility: Full-time educators, teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, or classified staff members with effective projects that improve student learning at accredited K-12 public or private schools. Application deadline: April 30, 2010.
NASSP/MetLife Foundation – Breakthrough Schools
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and the MetLife Foundation have partnered in a search for the nation's top "Breakthrough Schools." Applicants should be high-achieving middle or high schools, or schools that are making dramatic improvements in student achievement, whose best practices and outstanding results can inform other schools as they further their own improvement efforts. Maximum award: $5,000. Eligibility: High-achieving middle and high schools with 40% or more students eligible for free and reduced priced meals. Deadline: May 15, 2010.
NEA Foundation Student Achievement Grants
The mission of the NEA Foundation Student Achievement Grants program is to improve the academic achievement of students in U.S. public schools and public higher education institutions in any subject area(s). The work should improve students' habits of inquiry, self-directed learning, and critical reflection. Maximum award: $5,000. Eligibility: K-12 public school teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff at public colleges and universities. Deadline: June 1, 2010.
NEA Foundation Learning and Leadership Grants
The NEA Foundation would like to recognize initiatives that promote high-quality professional development, implement project-based learning, and result in break-the-mold innovations that raise student achievement. Maximum award: $2,000. Eligibility: Public school educators and support professionals, and faculty and staff in public higher education institutions. Deadline: June 1, 2010.
College Student Debt Rises, Giving Way to Borrowing Consumer Website
Few students can afford to pay for college without some form of education financing. According to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, two-thirds (65.6%) of 4-year undergraduate students graduated with a Bachelor's degree and some debt in 2007-08, and the average student loan debt among graduating seniors was $23,186 (excluding PLUS Loans but including Stafford, Perkins, state, college, and private loans).
The student debt burden has become so great that the American Bar Association have launched SafeBorrowing.com, an information website to help the public understand the risks associated with student loans and other forms of consumer debt. School counselors working with college-bound students and families should disseminate this link to those faced with borrowing to finance their education.
Inside JCD : Items of Interest to School Counselors in Summer Edition
The Summer 2010 edition of the Journal of Counseling & Development will have a number of articles that are relevant to school counseling. The issue is scheduled to arrive in your mailbox in June.
Advocacy and Empowerment in Parent Consultation: Implications for Theory and Practice by Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy & Julia Brown
An Exploration of Counselor Experiences of Adolescents With Sexual Behavior Problems by Linda Chassman, Jeffrey Kottler, & Jeanne Madision
Eating Disorders in African American Girls: Implications for Counselors by Regine M. Talleyrand
The Process of Suicide Risk Assessment: Twelve Core Principles by Darcy Haag Granello
Emergent Characteristics of Effective-Cross Cultural Research: A Review of the Literature by Christopher Sullivan & R. Rocco Cottone
HHS Campaign Urges Parents to Talk about Sex with Pre-Teens
The Parents Speak Up National Campaign ("PSUNC") is a national education campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. PSUNC encourages parents to talk with their pre-teens about sex. Parents, more than the media or their peers, have the greatest influence on their kids' decisions about sex, yet many parents feel uncomfortable talking about this challenging topic. PSUNC provides practical tools and resources to give parents the confidence they need to effectively communicate with their children about sex. Many of the campaign materials are available in both English and Spanish.
To support the community organizations and leaders who work directly with parents and children, PSUNC developed the Ready to Talk train-the-trainer workshop kit. The free kit includes everything a community leader would need to conduct local parent workshops to help parents can gain the skills they need to talk early and often with their pre-teen children about sex. The kit includes a DVD with a best practices video, a leader manual, a workshop PowerPoint, campaign PSAs, a video for parents, and multiple handouts. Order your free PSUNC resources today by visiting www.4parents.gov/order.
About ACAeNews for School Counselors
ACAeNews for School Counselors is one of four electronic newsletters that are published three times per year each by the American Counseling Association for the benefit of members working in elementary, middle, secondary and adult education settings. It is disseminated as an opt-in subscription enewsletter and is a free benefit of ACA membership.
The other three special focus enewsletters are:
Any reference to a product, service or activity or listing of a website in this publication does not imply endorsement by ACA. Any views and opinions are those of the sponsoring organization and may or may not be shared by ACA.
Direct comments, questions and submissions to Frank Burtnett. All submissions will be subject to review by ACA for accuracy, timeliness and relevance to the readership and may be edited.
Lynn E. Lynde, President
Richard Yep, CAE, Executive Director
Debra Bass, Director of Marketing and Communications
Frank Burtnett, NCC, NCCC, ACAeNews Editor
Don Kenneally, Internet Development / Production
ACA Website: www.counseling.org
Copyright 2010, American Counseling Association, 5999 Stevenson Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304. Telephone: 703-823-9800. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce anything contained in this newsletter as long as the American Counseling Association is identified as the original source of the information.