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What difference can good counseling make?. The Role of Guidance Counselors in Creating Opportunities for Students Pedro A. Noguera, Ph.D. Steinhardt School of Education New York University. The challenge:. Achieving Excellence and Equity Closing the achievement gap

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what difference can good counseling make

What difference can good counseling make?

The Role of Guidance Counselors in Creating Opportunities for Students

Pedro A. Noguera, Ph.D.

Steinhardt School of Education

New York University

the challenge
The challenge:
  • Achieving Excellence and Equity
  • Closing the achievement gap
  • Addressing the needs of poor, immigrant and disadvantaged children
  • Addressing less visible needs of privileged students
  • Public expectations are high and frustration is growing
  • What are the greatest challenges facing your school?
  • How do you know? (evidence)
  • What strategies, policies, resources and procedures are needed to address these challenges?
  • Counselors as Catalysts: How will you engage your staff, parents and students in the process of school improvement?
i what we know about factors influencing student achievement
I. What We Know About Factors Influencing Student Achievement
  • Student achievement is affected by social and economic needs (e.g. health, income,employment)
  • Parental education and expectations
  • Peer influences
  • Student attitudes, motivation and efficacy influence outcomes
  • Societal expectations and race and gender stereotypes
  • School culture and adult expectations affect academic outcomes
  • Patterns that have been in place for a long time are often accepted as normal - the normalization of failure is the central obstacle to increasing student achievement
dimensions of the gap
Dimensions of the Gap
  • Preparation Gap - Caused by limited access to quality pre-school
  • Parent-School Gap - Caused by strained relations between school staff and parents and limited effective parental involvement
  • Opportunity Gap - Caused by limited access to quality teaching and lack of resources at home
  • Performance Gap - Caused by lack of motivation and unwillingness of students to apply themselves
counselors can play a role in closing the relationship gap
Counselors can play a role in closing the relationship gap
  • Adult-student Gap - Caused by an inability of adults to develop strong relationships with students
    • Us vs. Them
    • Gate keepers vs. Bridge Builders
  • Alienation – students who are least connected to school, tend to do least well academically
    • Extra curricular activities serve as one means to build stronger relationships
  • Discipline – Poor behavior is often related to lack of positive relationships with caring adults
school practices that maintain disparities
School practices that maintain disparities
  • Many schools function primarily as sorting machines
    • Teacher assignments
    • Separating kids based on race and class - ESL, Gifted, special ed
  • Sorting occurs through:
    • Labeling - self fulfilling prophesy
    • Ability grouping - limiting access to rigorous courses, discipline practices
  • In a sorting system adults are less likely to accept responsibility for the outcomes and behavior of their students
    • Tracking reinforces stereotypes
ii placing student needs at the center of school reform
II. Placing student needs at the center of school reform
  • Building School Capacity
    • Psychologists and counselors as trainers on youth development
      • Broadening conversation of student need beyond achievement
    • Best practices on inclusion
  • Developing Systems of Support
    • Early intervention
    • Using data to monitor - disproportionality
    • Personalization for all
counselors as student advocates
Counselors as student advocates
  • Youth Development - A framework that recognizes the need for schools to address specific developmental needs of children:
    • Physical - nutrition, health, well being
    • Emotional/psychological
    • Personal safety
    • Social support
    • Intellectual support
iii the role of counselors
III. The role of counselors
  • Provide access and information about college and the courses needed to get there
  • Provide students with personal connections to access resources
    • Cultural capital - code switching
    • Generating social capital
      • Bridging capital
group discussion
Group Discussion
  • How are counselors presently utilized at your school?
  • What do you spend most of your time doing?
  • Which students are you most effective in reaching and which ones are you most likely not to reach?
bridge builders vs gate keepers
Bridge Builders

Encourage students to take challenging courses

Connect students with opportunities, resources, mentors, etc.

Advocates - Help students in developing relationships with influential adults

Gate Keepers

Discourage students from taking rigorous courses

Form early judgments about students based on past performance and behavior

Act as judges and enforcers - Hold students accountable without helping them to learn from mistakes

Bridge Builders vs. Gate Keepers
developing interventions
Developing interventions

Address the factors contributing to perceived risks and problematic behavior

    • Cognitive - learning disabilities
    • Academic - skill deficits
    • Social - family, peer, community influences
    • Emotional - abuse, neglect, developmental
  • Keep the child integrated within larger school community
    • Full inclusion in the classroom
    • Well trained teachers
    • Classroom support for students
    • Planning and coordination of strategies
responding to student needs in a proactive manner
Responding to student needs in a proactive manner
  • Build strong connections between at-risk students and caring adults
    • Targeted mentoring
    • Internships, field trips to colleges
    • Leadership opportunities
    • In-school suspension
  • Include efforts to engage child’s family in efforts to support
    • Joint counseling
    • Case work with social workers
    • Goal - Empower family to understand their rights and to take responsibility
  • What can you do to get your school to adopt the principles underlying effective interventions?
  • Who can you enlist as allies to insure that the principles are followed?
iv a new approach to utilizing counselors in efforts to close the gap
Old Approach

One counselor to several hundred students


Scheduling and programming


College counseling limited to seniors

New Approach

Counselors train staff to serve as advisors

Counselors devise workshops on college for groups of students 6 - 12

Counselors develop programs to meet student needs

Counselors work with parents to inform them of options for students

IV. A New Approach to Utilizing Counselors in Efforts to Close the Gap
interventions that work
Interventions that Work
  • After school programs
    • Provide support to peer groups
  • Accelerated summer school
    • Provides advanced preparation for students
  • Transition classes
    • Smaller classes for students who are behind
  • Coordinated services with trained professionals
  • See Effective Programs for Students at Risk by Slavin, Karweit and Wasik (1989) Boston: Allyn and Bacon and “Promising Programs for Eelementary and Middle Schools: Evidence of Effectiveness and Replicability” by Fashola and Slavin Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 2(3), 251-307, 1997
demystify school success
Demystify School Success
  • Teach study skills - organization, note taking, etc.
  • Provide samples of “good” work
  • Provide students with opportunities to be engaged in school and to be involved in leadership and service activities - extra curricular activities
  • Create study groups - AVID, MESA
  • Teach code switching so that students become “bi-cultural”
  • Discuss future plans early and expose students to options
v youth development and student discipline
V. Youth Development and Student Discipline
  • Most school discipline emphasizes punishment through humiliation and exclusion
  • Discipline should cultivate the ability of children to engage in complex reasoning on moral and ethical issues. Goal: self discipline.
  • Schools must devise rules for behavior that are rooted in social values that can be taught to children:
    • Self respect and respect toward others
    • Empathy and kindness
    • Moral compass to distinguish right from wrong
    • Honesty, personal integrity
identify and intervene early with troubled students
Identify and Intervene Early With Troubled Students
  • Most discipline problems are caused by 4 - 7% of population
    • Lowest achievers most likely to misbehave
  • Unmet student needs influence behavior
  • Must have strategies to target the most troubled students
    • address ties to schools and underlying risk factors
  • Must involve social workers and psychologists in interventions
key questions
Key Questions
  • Which students are most frequently disciplined?
    • What are the patterns with respect to race, class, gender
    • What is the academic profile of disciplined students
    • Which teachers refer the greatest number of students?
  • How do teachers/administrators use referrals?
    • What are the strategies used by teachers who give the fewest referrals?
  • How effective are discipline practices?
    • Is discipline for punishment or learning?