ACAeNews for School Counselors | Volume I | Number 1

School Counseloring

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Introductory Note
About ACAeNews Special Focus Editions...

Dear ACA Member:

Welcome to the first issue of ACAeNews for School Counselors, our newest addition to our series of Special Focus enewsletters. The other three are:

  • ACAeNews for Counselor Educators
  • ACAeNews for Counseling Students and New Professionals
  • ACAeNews for Mental Health, Private Practice and Community Agency Counselors

This electronic newsletter is a free service for ACA members. To ensure that all members are aware of this series, we will send the first two issues of each enewsletter to all members for whom we have an email address. Upon receipt of the second issue of each title, you will be provided directions to opt-in to receive further issues. If you do not wish to receive a title after the second issue, no action is required on your part. All ACA members will continue to receive the regular biweekly ACAeNews.

We hope you find this new benefit useful and we welcome your feedback. Please email the editor at

Richard Yep, CAE
Executive Director
American Counseling Association

4 Questions 4 Jack Jennings, President/CEO of the Center for Education Policy

  1. What would you say is the greatest challenge facing U.S. public education in 2008?

    In the years after the Second World War, the United States led the world in terms of students completing high school and people going to college. American education had direction and support and was recognized around the globe. Today, this is no longer true. Other nations have overtaken this country in high school completion and college-going. The greatest challenge facing us is to better educate as many Americans as we can. We must ensure that the expenditure of the human and fiscal resources at our disposal results in a world class educational experience for every student.
  2. You have commented publicly that there is too much testing for public accountability and not enough testing that is designed to help the student. Could you comment on this view?

    Standards-based reform, meant to raise the level of what students know and can do, has morphed into test-driven accountability. The No Child Left Behind Act and many state reforms place too much emphasis on testing for accountability purposes, and not enough on helping teachers, counselors and other educators to do a better job of education. The focus ought to be on providing a good curriculum and good teachers for all students and providing extra attention for students who need it, with assessment being used as a tool for constantly measuring how well students are doing so that teachers can modify what they are teaching to the individual student's needs. Counselors will play an important role in monitoring student achievement and progress. We should also aim to embed accountability measurements into this on-going assessment so that it is not a once a year phenomenon with little impact on improving education on a daily basis.
  3. How important is the school role of the counselor in the promotion of academic achievement and helping students to achieve their full educational and career potential?

    Too many students today have high aspirations for what they will do in life and little understanding of what they need to do in middle and high school in order to be able to pursue their education and career options. The numbers of counselors available due to budget constraints and the misuse of their roles are matters that need to be corrected.

    School counselors have an important role in facilitating learning and making certain that all students are positioned to achieve their full learning potential. They can play a critical role in helping students understand how to create an academic pathway preparing them for the future. American education needs a clear vision of how counselors can help students and then we must take action to make that vision a reality.
  4. How can public education do a more effective job of serving the needs of the underserved in America, individuals who all too often become the underrepresented in higher education and in many other segments of our society?

    Schools are facing great pressures from increasing numbers of poor, disabled, and limited English speaking students. For instance, the number of autistic children is increasing as are the numbers of immigrant students. Within a few years, a majority of students in the public schools will be children of color while the teaching force remains overwhelmingly white. These challenges require a real commitment to improving education, a commitment that goes beyond requiring more tests and more accountability. People must hold the politicians to their promises to improve the schools, and demand the fiscal and personnel resources to do that-for all students.

John F. (Jack) Jennings, founded the Center for Education Policy in 1995 and currently serves as its President and CEO. CEP is a national, independent advocate for public education and for more effective public schools. The Center helps Americans better understand the role of public education in a democracy and the need to improve the academic quality of public schools.

A veteran Washington education policy-maker, Jennings served as subcommittee staff director and then as general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor from 1967 to 1994. In these positions, he was involved in nearly every major education debate held at the national level, including the reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Vocational Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Higher Education Act, the National School Lunch Act, the Child Nutrition Act, and the authorization of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act.

ACA Member Sound Off! Counselor/Pupil Ratios in the Real World

Currently there is one counselor for every 479 students in the public schools of the nation (U.S. Department of Education 2004-05 data). How important is student to counselor ratio in providing top quality counseling services in the schools? You can sound off regarding the ACA and ASCA recommended 1 to 250 ratio and offer your personal view of what an ideal ratio might be.

Take the survey...

Wake Forest University Joins the Ranks of Test-Optional Institutions

The list of colleges not requiring admission tests in the past has, for the most part, been dominated by small, private, liberal arts institutions. That characteristic changed dramatically in late May, when Wake Forest University added its name to the test-optional list maintained by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest). Inside Higher Education electronic news called the list "influential with many prospective students" and referenced Wake Forest as one of the more highly ranked institutions to ever drop its standardized testing requirement.

Inside Higher Education story...

List of 775 test-optional institutions...

They Said It: Notable Quotables

"Lifelong education for everyone---from toddlers to workers well advanced in their careers-is indeed an excellent investment for individuals as well as society as a whole."

The above passage comes from the remarks of Ben S. Bernanke, Chief of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Education and Workforce Summit. Mr. Bernanke's remarks touched on the importance of education and the economy and the current educational attainment and achievement status of our citizens. He also addressed a number of challenges that will require education solutions.


Fast Fact: Number of Children Living in Poverty

If you were asked which is larger---the number of people living in New York City or the number of U.S. children living in poverty---what would you answer? According to a new report of the U.S. Census Bureau, the estimated number of children in poverty in the nation is 13 million and exceeds the combined populations of New York City (8,264,527) and Los Angeles (3,834,340).


Persistently High School-Dropout Problem Adds to Nation's Economic Worries

Spinning out of the many views of the impact of the global economic crisis is a late October Wall Street Journal story that suggests the nation's persistently high school-dropout rate will have a "ripple effect" long into the future. The WSJ story quotes Marguerite Kondracke, president of America's Promise Alliance, as saying school dropouts are "our next class of nonperforming assets."


Reliable Resource: Guide to State Laws and Regulations on Professional School Counseling

It is an established fact that all states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Virgin Islands require graduate education in school counseling as an entry-level prerequisite for state credentialing as a professional school counselor. This information and a wealth of other data are contained in A Guide to State Laws and Regulations on Professional School Counseling, prepared by the ACA Office of Public Policy & Legislation. This guide is an excellent reference for students heading toward a career in school counseling or practicing school counselors considering a move to another state. Single copies are free to ACA members. Contact Member Services at 800-347-6647, Ext. 222 or Please include your membership number when requesting a copy by email.

Worth Reading: Standardized Testing Gets "F" as Measure of Educational Quality

W. James Popham, professor emeritus at the University of California at Los Angeles's School of Education and Information is no friend of standardized testing and he pulls no punches in his "F for Assessment: Standardized Testing Fails" article that appears on the website. Dr. Popham takes educators and noneducators to task for using students' score to measure the quality of American education and calls for an immediate end to the practice. Beyond his blanket criticism, he identifies the attributes an "instructionally supportive" accountability test must possess and strategies educators must practice to end "instructionally insensitive" testing.


Pass It Along: KidsHealth Promotes Healthy Activities for Children

Parents and educators are becoming increasingly concerned about obesity, nutrition and a host of related health issues among children and youth and are mounting a search for reliable guidance. The KidsHealth web site, created by the Nemours Foundation's Center for Children's Health Media offers families accurate, current and reader friendly information about a host of children's health concerns. Pass it along!


UMass-Amherst Center is Focused on School Counseling Research

The Center for School Counseling Outcome Research at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst is dedicated to improving the practice of elementary, middle and secondary school counseling by developing the research base that is necessary for responsible and effective practice. Counselors and counselor educators can subscribe to a listserve that regularly reports research findings useful to the improvement and extension of school counseling programs.


Inside JCD: Fall Issue Articles on School Counseling

The fall 2008 issue of ACA's Journal of Counseling & Development (JCD) has several articles of particular interest to school counselors:

  • Examining Discrepancies Between Actual and Preferred Practice of School Counselors by Janna L. Scarborough & John R. Culbreth
  • Verbal and Nonverbal Metaphor With Children in Counseling by Gayle L. Chesley, Dodie A. Gillett & William G. Wagner
  • Best Practices in the Multidisciplinary Assessment of Emotional Disturbances: A Primer for Counselors by Heidi L. Rudy & Edward M. Levinson

Please note that you can earn one CE credit for reading specific JCD articles and passing a 3-question test. The cost is $18; you can take it online, or use the test/form printed in the journal. In the fall 2008 issue, it appears on p. 398.

News You Can Use: Drinking Behaviors of Elementary School Students

According to a study reported in ScienceDaily at the beginning of the school year, elementary school is where alcohol consumption begins and grows. Dr. John Donovan, University of Pittsburgh researcher and author of Really Underage Drinkers: The Epidemiology of Children's Alcohol Use in the United States, found 10% of fourth graders had sipped alcohol and 7% had had a drink in the past year. Donovan goes on to state that alcohol use increases with age and doubles between grades four and six. The findings were reported in ScienceDaily, the popular science research newsletter.


Sign of the Times: Helicopter Parents

School counselors have known about them long before the popular media gave them the name--- "helicopter" parents. This term is used to describe those moms and dads who can't resist a "hovering" role in the growth and development and education of their children. From the elementary school classroom to the teen soccer field to the college and career selection process, these parents are omnipresent in their children's lives, a role some say they cannot resist.

The College Board has even devoted a page on its web site to the helicopter parent phenomenon, including a quiz parents can take to assess their level of over involvement in the high school to college transition. Dare you share it with your helicopter parents?

Parent quiz...

Relevant Research: Experiences of LGBT Families Reflect Harassment

Research conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network has found harassment and bullying as a result of family structure to be a significant concern for children in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families. The report, Involved, Invisible... Ignored: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Parents and Their Children in Our Nation's K-12 Schools, also suggests that LGBT parents exhibit a greater involvement in their children's education.


ED NOTE: Judy and Dennis Shepard lived the nightmare of a hate crime. Their son, Matthew, died following a brutal attack determined by authorities to be a hate crime related to his sexual orientation. Judy Shepard keeps Matthew's spirit alive in the poignant messages she has been delivering about her personal experience to audiences for more than a decade. She is a keynote speaker at the 2009 ACA Conference.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation

Edutopia Reader Survey: What Did Educators Say?

Edutopia magazine, the electronic communique for educators created by the George Lucas Education Foundation (Star Wars and mega movie producer), has conducted its annual Reader Survey and opportunity for educators to express themselves on a variety of issues. Topics include everything from the top concerns of parents to the best education software and lots of other interesting issues. School counselors are encouraged to let their specific concerns be known so that future surveys may consider questions that address them.

Edutopia Survey...

ACA Has It! Revision of Best-Seller on Solution-Focused School Counseling Released

A recent release by ACA is sure to hold interest for counselors working in school settings. Solution-Focused Counseling in Schools, Second Edition John J. Murphy

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
  • ISBN 978-1-55620-247-6
  • List Price: $44.95
  • ACA Member Price: $33.95

Click here for Solution Focused Counseling in Schools...

ACA has also produced a free, 49-minute "members only" podcast in which author Murphy discusses solution-focused counseling in schools

View the podcast description...

Inside the Numbers: What Current College Freshmen Intend to Study

The American College Freshman Study is a highly recognized, national, longitudinal study conducted by the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute that gathers information annually about the views and behaviors of the current college freshman class. In response to a question regarding what they would select as their major field of study, the men and women who are freshmen at this very moment offered the following responses:





Arts & humanities


Social sciences




Biological sciences




Other fields




Physical sciences




Learning Opportunities Abound for School Counselors at ACA Conference in Charlotte

The ACA Conference & Exposition, March 19-23, 2009, in Charlotte, NC offers school counselors an unprecedented number of Pre-Conference Learning Institutes and regular Education Sessions. Join your school counseling peers, while also benefiting from the natural cross-pollination that occurs at ACA conferences, which are attended by more than 3,000 counseling professionals with expertise in the issues you deal with on a daily basis: substance abuse, multicultural issues, anxiety, divorce and other family issues, eating disorders, achievement and testing, and dozens more. Plus, you can earn a School Counseling Academy Certificate (PDF).

Pre-Conference Learning Institutes

The following Pre-Conference Learning Institutes will be of particular interest to school counselors. For complete session descriptions, and to read about all of the LIs, visit: the ACA conference page and click on pre-conference Learning Institutes.

  • Critical Issues in Working with Parents of Young Children in Counseling
  • Counseling Teens: Cognitive, Emotional and Constructivist Change Techniques
  • Cultural Competency and Creative Interventions with Traumatized Children
  • Play Therapy: A Universal Language for Understanding and Helping Children from Diverse Cultures and Diverse Needs
  • The Transformed School Counselor in Action
  • Extending the Basics: Advanced Skills and Issues in Counseling Young Children
  • Advanced Techniques in Brief Solution-Focused Counseling with Children, Adolescents and Parents and Schools
  • Are We Having Fun Yet? Using Cooperative Physical Activity to Enhance Children's Social Skills and Self-Image

Education Sessions

Below is a representative list of Education Sessions of interest to school counselors. Many of the other sessions in 30 different categories would also be highly relevant to school counselors in all settings-pre-K thru college. To view the full array of more than 500 Education Sessions and to register, go to: and click on Education Sessions.

  • A New Look at an Old Problem: The Achievement Gap
  • Accountability and School Counselors: It's Easier Than You Think
  • Addressing the Increasing Mental Health Issues Present by Today's Students
  • Advisory: Success and Challenges of a New Initiative for School Improvement in Underperforming Urban Schools
  • ASCA National Model Helps Build Systemic Change
  • Early Transitions for Vulnerable Children: Helping Elementary Students and Families C.O.P.E.
  • Formulating and Implementing a Suicide Awareness, Intervention, and Prevention Program in Middle and High Schools
  • Intimate Danger: Strategies for Counselors Working with Adolescent Victims of Dating Abuse
  • National Survey of Urban School Counselor Preparation Programs: Implications for Education and Practice
  • Prevention Soup: Ingredients for Excellence in K-12 Education and Counseling Strategies
  • Rural School Counselors: Voices from Rural Counselors Discussing the Main Problems and How You Can Overcome Them
  • School Counselors' Role in Training Parents as Advocates
  • Supporting Minority Students in AP Courses: A School Counseling Program's Approach
  • The Importance of the Principal-School Counselor Relationship
  • Working with Gang Members: Addressing the Community within Our Schools

Register Now!

Websites That Work for You: A Dozen Online Counselor Aids

Each edition of ACAeNews for School Counselors will provide information and links to web sites that are useful to school counselors, including those that can be shared with students and parents. Check them out!

  1. Back to School Web Site
    The Substance and Mental Health Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services offers educator and parent information on a number of substance abuse and mental health issues.
  2. Financial Aid for College-Bound Students
    Comprehensive sources about scholarships, grants and related student assistance opportunities.
  3. National College Fair Locations and Information
    Listing of the 40+ annual events of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
  4. Study Skills
    Free Internet help for students experiencing myriad study concerns.
  5. Counselor Guide to FAFSA and Federal Student Assistance Tools
    Link to the latest counselor tools for helping students with the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance.
  6. Occupational Outlook Handbook
    Internet edition of one of the most widely used career counseling tools of all time.
  7. Test Prep Web Site
    Free online admission test prep site. Users must register.
  8. DOL's Road Trip to Career Success
    Information about career and education choices for students, parents, career-changers and counselors from the US Department of Labor.
  9. SAMSHA Drug Prevention Resources
    Resources for the student, parent, school counselor and educators from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  10. Newsletters for the College-Bound
    ACT has created a newsletter, News You Can Use, that school counselors can print and distribute to students and families.
  11. Transition to College
    The National Association for College Admission Counseling's online newsletter, Steps to College is for and about students in the school-to-college transition.
  12. Anti-tobacco Information
    Information and resources counselors can use in developing anti-tobacco campaigns with children 5-9 (the ages during which tobacco experimentation begins)
  13. Overview of Education Facts and Figures
    The US Department of Education Digest of Education Statistics (2007) is "old reliable" when the counselor is called upon to reference national trends and statistics in education.

ACAeNews for School Counselors readers are encouraged to share their favorite websites with their colleagues. Send your favorite site and a one sentence description of what it does to ACA and your counseling peers thank you in advance.

Some of these sites identified above ask users to register in order to use. Others are part of a larger program designed to promote products and services. Bear this is mind when recommending them for use by students, parents, and colleagues.

Just the FAQs: Making the School Website Work for You

What are the core messages the counseling staff would like to make accessible to its stakeholders? What are the most frequently asked questions raised by students and parents as they connect with the school counseling program?

Important information of this nature can be a vital part of the school web site and a link to the school counseling program. Posting of the basic "need to know" information represents a service to students, parents and staff who will have 24/7 access to these vital tidbits. Moreover, a recent study of the use web site benefits pointed to core messages and presentation of FAQs as a significant time savers for professionals working in human service settings. The business world calls this putting your "brand" before the consumers.

School counselors can be proactive in their communication and message delivery by following these procedures:

  1. Prioritize the core messages you need to deliver and questions most commonly asked by students and parents.
  2. Create comprehensive messages and answers that can withstand the test of time (shelf-life).
  3. Post information on the school counseling program link of the school web site.
  4. Revise and update the information as required.

Take a look at your school website today. Is it helping you communicate effectively with students, parents and staff? It may need your immediate attention.

American School Counselor Association Offers RAMP Guidance

Schools seeking assistance in making application for Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) status will find detailed information in a new podcast offered by the association. Approximately 13 minutes in length, the program provides an overview of the RAMP program and the application procedures. It is one of a series of featured podcasts being offered at the ASCAway section of the ASCA web site.


Plan Now to Celebrate National School Counseling Week

The American School Counselor Association sponsored National School Counseling Week is February 2-6, 2009 and planning for activities and events should be launched during the fall months to ensure that the event gets appropriate public and professional attention. In support of this week long event that promotes the importance of counseling students in schools and the role of professional school counselors, ASCA has created a number of celebration resources.


ACAeNews for School Counselors is one of four new electronic newsletters that will be published three times per year each by the American Counseling Association for the benefit of members working in these unique settings. It is disseminated as an opt-in subscription enewsletter and is a free benefit of ACA membership. The next issue will include information on how to opt-in as a subscriber.

The other three special focus enewsletters are:

  • ACAeNews for Counselor Educators
  • ACAeNews for Counseling Students and New Professionals
  • ACAeNews for Mental Health, Private Practice and Community Agency Counselors

Any reference to a product, service or activity or listing of a web site 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.


ACAeNews is published biweekly by the American Counseling Association for the benefit of members and the counseling profession. Any reference to a product, service, activity or listing of a web site in ACAeNews 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 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, Interim Director of Marketing

Frank Burtnett, ACAeNews Editor

Don Kenneally, Internet Development / Production

ACA Web site:

Copyright 2008, American Counseling Association, 5999 Stevenson Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304. Telephone: 703/823-9800. Email: 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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