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. administrative/clerical tasks.
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 time.
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 assessment.
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 be avoided.
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 development.
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 experienced counselor.
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 (April 1982):491-495.
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.
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