In 2000 the Department of Counseling and Human Services became a companion institution with the Transforming School Counseling Initiative of The Education Trust. The Education Trust was established in 1990 by the American Association for Higher Education to encourage colleges and universities to support K-12 reform efforts. The Education Trust insists on high academic achievement for all students at all levels especially low-income students and students of color. The Education Trust’s basic tenet is that children will learn at high levels when they are taught to high levels and closing the achievement gaps that separate low-income students and students of color from other youth is central to our nation’s future.
The mission of the Education Trust aligns with the counseling program at Canisius College. The largest impact of our association with the Education Trust has been in curriculum reform that has grown out of the Transforming School Counseling Initiative. The following recommendations of the Transforming School Counseling Initiative have provided the focus for these changes:
- School counselors need to understand and work to ameliorate the achievement gaps that exist in our nation’s schools.
- School counselors need to use data to change policy and practice.
- School counselors need to collaborate with other stakeholders to effect systemic change often taking on a leadership role.
- School counselors need to add systemic advocacy to their work with students.
In many ways the ideas generated from the Transforming School Counseling Initiative have been immersed throughout our curriculum. More apparent examples include the use of a power point presentation developed by the Education Trust in our Career Counseling course, which provides a fundamental awareness of disparities in achievement between majority and minority school populations. Another example is in the Research course. In addition to the traditional assignment that requires students to develop a plan and statistical method to research a counseling related issue (often of a theoretical or rather ambitious project) our students are required to identify a “practical” application of the use of data with an applied school counseling concern. For example, this assignment might look at achievement measures after a counseling/tutoring program was used for at-risk 7th grade students, or this assignment might look at changes in attendance patterns of disadvantaged youth after a counselor sponsored parent/child program was run. Although some might consider these more modest applications of statistical analysis, school counselor’s who are able to use data in these ways will be more effective due to their ability to be accountable for their professional efforts.
Two classes that highlight the new focus of school counselor training in our program include Principles of School Counseling (EDC 567) and a post-masters degree course on Managing School Counseling Programs (EDC 590). The Managing School Counseling Programs course is fully web based.