ERIC Identifier: ED260365
Publication Date: 1984-00-00
Author: Bleuer, Jeanne, Comp.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse
on Counseling and Personnel Services Ann Arbor MI.
Assessing School Counselor Performance. In Brief: An
Information Digest from ERIC/CAPS.
Spurred by the movement toward competency-based teacher evaluation, school
administrators and guidance directors are seeking similar assessment strategies
for counselors. This Digest identifies the issues which must be addressed to
make instruments and procedures efficient, fair, valid and useful.
FOCUSING THE ASSESSMENT
An efficient, but fair assessment of counselor performance focuses primarily
on what the counselor actually does--not on counselor skills, training or
experience, and not on student outcomes. Assessment of prerequisite counselor
skills wastes time and effort in that it duplicates other forms of evaluation.
Attempting to link student outcomes exclusively to individual counselor
performance is unfair in that many factors other than counseling influence
student learning and behavior. While accountability for student outcomes is
important, it belongs to a broader program evaluation which takes these other
factors into account.
SELECTING ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
Counselor assessment criteria must be based on clear role priorities in the
current job setting--for example, developmental/preventative vs. crisis/remedial
activities, counseling students vs. counseling with parents or teachers,
academic/career vs. personal/social counseling, and counseling vs.
Once these priorities have been clarified, administrators and counselors
should define realistic expectations of time to be spent and tasks to be
accomplished. This collaboration could result in guidelines for an assessment
instrument which could be used by counselors to monitor their own priorities and
In most counselor performance assessments, program administrators will want
to know not only what the counselor does, but how well he/she does it. Is
accurate information given to students? Are school policies observed by the
counselor? Are tasks performed efficiently?
These types of assessments often require subjective judgments which may be
threatening to counselors. Identifying very specific examples of each desired
behavior can reduce subjectivity, and obtaining counselor input about the
validity of these descriptions can reduce counselor anxiety.
DESIGNING THE INSTRUMENT
The most critical measurement issue in performance assessment is validity. Is
specific "job-relatedness" built into the assessment instrument? Does it
actually measure what it says it measures? There is no one instrument, either in
format or in content, that can be used universally to assess school counselor
performance. To be valid in a particular setting, the instrument must reflect
the priorities of the school, the district, or the state conducting the
Constructing a useful counselor performance assessment instrument does not
require extensive measurement expertise. Once the relevant participants in the
assessment process agree on the job-relatedness of the tasks and behaviors to be
assessed, a simple and easy-to-use instrument may be developed. The goal is to
produce a tool that will actually be used, not a sophisticated measurement
device for collecting research data.
The form may be a simple one-page checklist, in which each item represents
one major objective, or a several-page document, in which each objective is
broken into specific tasks or characteristic behaviors. Similarly, the response
called for by each item may be a check mark indicating the presence of a
characteristic or completion of a task or a numerical rating with each number
representing a specific behavior description. Vague, low-to-high options should
Even if the form is to be used primarily for assessing minimal competency or
"adequate" job performance, it should contain item response options that address
the full range of evaluation from unsatisfactory to outstanding and/or highly
creative performance. This expands the potential usefulness of the assessment
process as a positive strategy for facilitating ongoing counselor growth and
CONDUCTING THE ASSESSMENT
It is important to be open and specific about the purpose of a performance
assessment. Counselors should know if it will be used to determine promotions or
pay increases, to provide constructive feedback for professional development, or
simply to meet administrative requirements. They also should know what
instrument will be used, who will conduct the assessment, when it will be
conducted, and when they will be informed of the results. Conducting the
assessment collaboratively, with counselors and assessors responding to and
discussing each item, is highly recommended.
USING ASSESSMENT RESULTS
Performance assessment can be time-consuming for both the assessor and
assessee; to be cost-effective, it should serve as many people in as many ways
as possible. Viewed positively and constructively, a performance assessment can
go well beyond a pro forma documentation of minimal competency. It can address
new and emerging areas of professional expertise and can serve as a challenge to
maximize the ongoing professional development of even the most competent and
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Atkinson, Donald R., and others. "A Four-Component Model for Proactive
Accountability in School Counseling." SCHOOL COUNSELOR 26 (March 1979):222-228.
Baker, Stanley B. "Accountability for School Counseling Programs." Paper
presented at the annual convention of the American Personnel and Guidance
Association, St. Louis, Missouri, April 12-15, 1981. ED 208 309.
GUIDE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A COUNSELOR EVALUATION PLAN, A. Falls Church,
VA: American School Counselor Association, 1981.
Hayden, Charles, and Neil Pohlmann. "Accountability and Evaluation: Necessary
for the Survival of Guidance Programs?" NASSP BULLETIN 65 (October 1981): 60-63.
Knapper, Everett Q. "Counselor Accountability." PERSONNEL AND GUIDANCE
JOURNAL 57 (September 1978): 27-30.
McIntire, Ronald G., and Martha J. Wong. COUNSELOR QUALITY ASSURANCE PROGRAM
MANUAL. Houston, TX: Houston Independent School District, 1983. ED 238 165.
Norris, Carol A., and Mary Jane Finley. EVALUATION OF GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION BOOKLET: EFFECTIVENESS OF COUNSELOR ACTIVITIES. RESEARCH
SERVICES REPORT NO. 22:05:81/82:011. Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix Union High School
District, 1982. ED 223 934.
Peterson, Gary W., and Harman D. Burck. "A Competency Approach to
Accountability in Human Service Programs." PERSONNEL AND GUIDANCE JOURNAL 60
PROMISING PRACTICES: CRITERIA FOR EXCELLENCE IN GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING.
Juneau, AK: Alaska State Department of Education, 1981.
Wiggins, James D. "Steps to Take in Evaluating a School's Guidance Program."
NASSP BULLETIN 65 (October 1981):29-33.
This Digest was prepared for the ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and
Personnel Services, 1984.