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Welcome to the second issue of ACAeNews for School Counselors, one in a series of Special Focus enewsletters. The other three are:
This electronic newsletter is a free service for ACA members. To ensure that all members are aware of this series, we have sent the first two issues of each enewsletter to all members for whom we have an email address. Watch your mailbox for a separate email containing opt-in instructions to continue receiving ACAeNews for School Counselors. All ACA members will continue to receive the regular biweekly ACAeNews.
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Richard Yep, CAE
1. Lumina Foundation states openly a desire to "help people achieve their potential." Expand on that mission for our readers and identify the audiences you hope to serve with your philanthropy.
As the nation's largest private foundation with the sole mission to improve access and success in education beyond high school, Lumina Foundation wants to help return the U. S. to a position of global leadership by increasing the proportion of Americans who hold high-quality two- and four-year degrees from the current rate of 39 percent to 60 percent by the year 2025. Our initiatives reach students of all ages---from sixth graders to adult learners. We've come to call this our "big goal."
2. What would you say are the most formidable challenges facing the nation's elementary, middle, and secondary schools today?
For students to have a shot at the American dream, they must equip themselves with the tools necessary to compete. A college education offers the best opportunity to do so. The payoff for graduating from college is dramatic. Research shows that Americans with college degrees earn more, save more, and produce more in their lifetimes.
Lumina, for example, has co-sponsored KnowHow2Go (KH2GO) with the American Council on Education. KH2GO is a national public service advertising campaign developed in partnership with the Ad Council that targets low-income and first-generation students in grades 8 through 10. It combines education, community-based, and government partnerships to raise awareness among students about preparing for college.
3. How important is the role of the school counselor in promoting academic achievement and facilitating learning for our students?
School counselors provide an integral link for students as they begin to map their future. With KnowHow2GO, the grassroots component continues to be critical in its overall success. Mentors - YMCA/YWCA staff, church leaders, and very importantly, school counselors - who interact with students, provide key guidance and leadership. If those individuals can help students understand the steps it takes to get to college, more students will start to take those steps.
4. How can we do a more effective job of addressing the needs of the underserved in America, individuals who all too often become the underrepresented in higher education, many career fields, and in many other aspects of American life?
Americans must tackle the education gap on a number of fronts. We must expand adult learning opportunities, particularly at community colleges, which serve many unemployed workers looking to retrain and develop their skills. Strategically, we must inform students of all ages about the academic, financial, and other requirements of college, significantly improve college affordability through increased financial aid, and enhance student learning outcomes---making sure that a college degree provides graduates with the skills and knowledge to be successful in today's constantly evolving job environment. And finally, we must improve productivity in the current higher education system to ensure that existing resources are effectively and efficiently spent. This includes exploring alternative models to delivering high-quality education, using technology and new providers to help us do more, better, faster.
Long a champion of the idea that higher education enhances both society and individuals, Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, has worked for decades to increase educational opportunity among low-income, minority and other historically underrepresented populations. Before joining Lumina in 2008, Merisotis was founding president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Founded in Washington, D.C., in 1993, IHEP is an independent, non-partisan organization regarded as one of the world's premier higher-education research and policy centers.
Mr. Merisotis is an expert on a wide range of higher-education issues. While at IHEP, Merisotis helped establish the Alliance for Equity in Higher Education, an unprecedented coalition of national associations whose members represent more than 350 minority-serving institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions.
A subject getting considerable attention in education, health, law enforcement, and other settings is child and teen Internet safety. To what extent have you faced the issue of Internet safety in your work with children and adolescents and what opinions have you formed regarding the subject? Share your thoughts by participating in our unscientific, anonymous, informal ACA member poll. Findings will be reported in the next edition of this electronic newsletter.
Childhood obesity has replaced smoking as the top youth health problem voiced by adults in the 2008 National Poll on Children's Health conducted by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. Dr. Matthew M. Davis, poll director, commented; "While recent studies have suggested the childhood obesity epidemic may be leveling off, the results of this poll reveal that adults in the U.S. are still very much concerned about the issue." New to the list of top ten youth health concerns in 2008 were bullying, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and environmental toxins.
For its report, the National Poll on Children's Health used data from a national online survey conducted in April 2008 in collaboration with Knowledge Networks Inc. The survey was administered to a random sample of 2,064 adults, age 18 and older, who are a part of Knowledge Network's online KnowledgePanelSM. About three-fourths of the sample were households with children.
Counselors working in a number of schools in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area were profiled in a Washington Post story on March 23. The article detailed how counselors are becoming more proactive in addressing the needs of students and families and moving away from the "putting out fires" to a more proactive approach. Examples were presented of early intervention programs in getting to students earlier about academic and achievement matters and the role that technology and research play in pinpointing student data that requires counselor follow-up.
The annual Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) "Freshman at 4-Year Colleges Survey" report was published earlier this year in the Chronicle of Higher Education and revealed a profile of the students in the current (2008-09) freshman class across America, including an in-depth look at their behaviors, choices, actions and opinions. Some of the findings:
The full findings of this year's Freshman at 4-Year Colleges survey were posted in the January 22, 2009 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Access to specific editions of the newspaper are restricted to subscribers and password driven. www.chronicle.com.
"The fact is we are not just in an economic crisis; we are in an educational crisis. We have to educate ourselves to a better economy."
Secretary Arne Duncan, U.S. Department of Education, commenting on the federal stimulus package provisions for education as reported in U.S. News & World Report, February 5, 2009.
Data collected by the National Center for Educational Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education for the 2006-07 school year and reported in January, 2009 reveal that 103,823 counselors serve a K-12 student population of 49,289,945. The national student-to-counselor ratio is 475-1.
Before a joint session of Congress on February 24th, President Obama stated: "right now three-quarters of the fastest growing occupations require more than a high school diploma. And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education." Organizations such as the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) cite the importance of college study and degree attainment in the competitive global economy of the future, and point to the middle school years as the time when students and their parents must begin to make critical choices.
"From Aspirations to Action: The Role of Middle School Parents in Making the Dream of College a Reality" is an IHEP report offering suggestions about counseling and educational strategies, as well as defining outcomes for early intervention programs for middle school students..
The spring 2009 issue of ACA's Journal of Counseling & Development, delivered to members in mid March, contains a number of articles that are relevant to school counselors.
Factors Affecting African American Counselor's Job Satisfaction: A National Survey, by Cravor Jones, Thomas H. Hohenshil & Penny Burge
Understanding and Treating Children Who Experience Interpersonal Maltreatment: Empirical Findings by David M. Lawson
New Mandates and Imperatives in the Revised ACA Code of Ethics by David Kaplan & Associates
Homework. Kids are certain to have opinions. Teachers are likely to have a range of views. And parents most definitely have strong sentiments on the topic. What remains is a continuing debate about the value of homework, the form it should take, and what levels of parent involvement should be expected. Regarding the latter, surveys reported by the National Education Association and Sylvan Learning revealed the following:
Parents wishing they did not have to be involved in homework as much as they are - 35%
Teachers stating that parents should be more involved in the student's homework - 62%
Educators have long viewed homework as a vital ingredient in the learning process, one that offers students a chance to prepare for upcoming classroom experiences, practice skills and techniques, and reinforce learning. In a Washington Post article earlier this year, Harris Cooper, professor of education and psychology at Duke University and "homework expert," opined: "there is little evidence that most homework in elementary school helps kids learn." In a supportive comment, he cited reading and opportunities to practice skills as important learning techniques, skills that have been shown to help students do better on tests.
Solution-Focused Counseling in Schools, Second Edition
This book offers a refreshingly positive and practical approach to resolving a diverse range of problems from preschool through high school. Drawing on the most recent research and on his extensive experience as a school practitioner and trainer, Murphy presents a step-by-step guide to solution-focused counseling in today's schools. This strength-based approach is illustrated through real-world examples and dialogues from actual counseling sessions. User-friendly forms, questionnaires, and handouts are provided for immediate application with students, teachers, and parents.
Order # 72873
Active Interventions for Kids and Teens
This book contains 50 action-oriented activities that can be used in groups with children, adolescents, and adults. Combining fun with proven adventure therapy strategies, the activities are designed to stimulate learning, promote social and emotional development, cultivate skills, foster change, and encourage teamwork. For quick and easy use, each activity lists age range, game rules, goals and objectives, materials required, modification suggestions, and post-activity processing and discussion questions. Additionally, helpful matrixes organize the activities by type, goals, objectives, and grade levels to help group leaders find the right activity at the right time.
The Pew Internet and Life Project reports that video gaming is pervasive in the lives of American teens---young teens and older teens, girls and boys, and teens from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Half of all teens reported playing a video game "yesterday." Those who play daily typically play for an hour or more. More findings:
In the inaugural issue of this e-newsletter, members were asked to express their thoughts on student-to-counselor ratios. (Please note that ACA considers these polls to be unscientific; they are an opportunity for members to share information and address issues of concern). Following are the findings, in which 87 members participated:
Question 1: Currently ACA and ASCA recommend a 250-1 ratio. What is your personal impression of the 250-1 ratio?
Too high, the number of students should be lowered - 27.6%
Question 2: In a perfect world, how many students do you believe should be assigned to a counselor working in an elementary, middle or secondary school?
100 or fewer students - 18.4%
Question 3: How does your current counseling situation match up with the ACA and ASCA recommendation?
Considerably better than the recommendation - 4.7%
The ratio of students to school counselors in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools stayed virtually the same in the 2006-2007 school year, according to data recently released from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). ACA's Public Policy staff has updated the state-by-state student-to-counselor ratio charts for public elementary and secondary schools.
ACA and ASCA recommend a maximum average student-to-counselor ratio of 250:1 to ensure that students have adequate access to counselors' services. Research shows that the provision of school counseling services can improve student well-being and academic achievement.
The SchoolCounselor.com e-newsletter is an electronic publication designed to advance your technological literacy, application, and integration. It was developed and disseminated by Russ Sabella, past president of the American School Counselor Association. If you wish to share a tip or trick, or ask a question, e-mail Dr. Sabella at firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant Wrangler Helps Schools Find Philanthropic Support
Grant Wrangler® is a free grants listing service that makes it easier for educators to find funding, including grants, gifts, and awards for school and community projects. The website also helps grant-giving organizations promote their award opportunities to counselors and other educators. The Grant Wrangler Bulletin is a bi-weekly newsletter delivering the latest grants and awards information directly to your email box.
Homework isn't about to go anywhere soon and the U.S. Department of Education has posted a ten-page parent booklet offering guidelines and resources.
National College Fair Locations for Spring/Fall 2009
A national parade of 40+ National College Fairs sponsored throughout the year by the National Association for College Admission Counseling can be accessed along with a search device that will tell you what institutions have registered for each fair.
Facts and Figures on American Education
The Digest of Education Statistics contains a wealth of data (i.e., diploma and degree statistics, etc.) on American schools and colleges and represents the most recent collection periods.
Internet Safety Sites
Three websites that you can share with parents will help you learn about Internet safety issues
Advice for preteen parents - http://www.safekids.com/guidelines-for-parents/
Advice for teen parents - http://www.safekids.com/guidelines-for-parents-of-teens/
An Internet safety test by PBSKids.org - http://pbskids.org/license/
FAFSA Resources for Counselors
The Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) is the most important application students moving from school to college---and needing financial assistance---must complete. Check out the list of counselor tools and resources at this U.S. Department of Education website.
Many school counselors are using electronic newsletters to communicate with students, parents, staff, and other audiences. These newsletters often complement the core information placed on the school website and counseling department link. However, in using the Internet as a communication tool, counselors are discovering some development and delivery concerns that may be addressed by the following tips:
1. Determine the message to be delivered and the audience(s) that needs to receive it. As the Internet has grown as a communication tool, counselors have gotten pretty good at posting the core messages and links on the school website so they are available 24/7 for students and parents. An electronic newsletter, however, does more. It allows you to deliver time-sensitive updates, as well as call special attention to activities, events, and services. Newsletter sections and departments ("Senior Signals," "Just for Parents," etc.) can be designed for audiences within the audience.
2. Determine how often to disseminate your newsletter. Commitment to a newsletter raises expectation of regular delivery (i.e., monthly, quarterly). Set a reasonable distribution objective and stick to it.
3. Figure out the best way to deliver your newsletter. Electronic newsletters can be delivered a couple of different ways. Many counselors write regular electronic newsletter updates and post them for readers on the school website or the counseling department link. Regular readers will know to go there to get news and messages, check calendars, and learn about activities and events designed for them.
The alternative is to send an e-blast (i.e., group email). This method is significantly more sophisticated from an information technology perspective and fraught with list management and upkeep concerns. If you elect to e-blast your newsletter, make subscribing and unsubscribing as simple as possible and ensure delivery by avoiding spam words in your subject line. Spam controls used by Internet service providers watch for words like "important" and "free" and often send them directly to the garbage can.
4. Look around the school for allies in generating the messages and getting your newsletter to its audience(s). Are there members of the counseling or school staff that should be regular contributors to the newsletter? Do you have a technology club that is looking for a project? Are there any student or parent volunteers with IT skills that could help in preparing your newsletter for posting or e-blasting? Are there "piggy back" capabilities with any existing school communication vehicles (i.e., Parent-Teacher organization)?
5. Invite feedback. Ask your readers to tell you the things they want to know more about and encourage interaction with them. A simple Q&A or FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) can be useful.
ACAeNews for School Counselors is one of four new electronic newsletters that are published three times per year each by the American Counseling Association for the benefit of members working in these unique settings. Each is disseminated as an opt-in subscription enewsletter and is a free benefit of ACA membership.
Direct comments, questions and submissions to email@example.com. All submissions will be subject to review by ACA for accuracy, timeliness and relevance to the readership and may be edited to meet space parameters.
Colleen Logan, President
Richard Yep, CAE, Executive Director
Debra Bass, Director of Marketing and Communications
Frank Burtnett, ACAeNews Editor
Don Kenneally, Internet Development / Production
ACA Web site: http://www.counseling.org
Copyright 2009, 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.
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