Recent literature on school counseling has focused on the need for new directions for school counseling and redefined roles for school counselors. Some educators (Baker 1996; Beale and McCay 2001; Campbell and Dahir 1997; Schmidt 1999) contend that school counseling programs need to become more closely aligned with state and national standards for school counselors. Some argue that school counselors often undertake inappropriate activities (e.g., scheduling of classes, student discipline, and clerical duties). These activities tend to compromise the counselors' ability to deal with key dimensions of school counseling - such as individual and group counseling, consultation, case management, program evaluation, and the development of schoolwide guidance programs (Baker 1996; Fitch, Newby, and Ballestero 2001; Perusse, Goodnough, and Noel 2001; Schmidt 1999).1
Federal support for improving or expanding guidance counseling programs in elementary and secondary schools is reflected in several pieces of legislation under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 2001.2 For example, the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Programs, under Title IV, Part D, of the ESEA, is a grant program that provides local agencies with federal funds to establish or expand elementary and secondary school counseling programs.3 Legislation on career guidance and counseling programs, embodied in the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-332), offers federal grants to help provide vocational-technical education programs and services to youths and adults. Thus, schools may use Perkins funds to support career counseling and guidance activities for students who participate in vocational programs.4
To address problems that may interfere with students' learning, guidance counselors may take on a range of responsibilities, such as individual or group counseling on academic, career, and personal issues, and student discipline. However, no national data exist that provide a current picture of high school guidance counseling programs and activities. The most recent national data on high school guidance counseling were collected in 1984, as part of the Administrator and Teacher Survey, a supplement to the High School and Beyond Longitudinal Study (HS&B).5 To help address the lack of current information on high school guidance counseling, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducted a survey in spring 2002 for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education. The survey on high school guidance counseling was designed to provide a description of guidance programs, guidance activities for high school students, and guidance staff in 2002.6 Specifically, the 2002 survey examined the following dimensions of high school guidance counseling:
In addition to presenting current data from the 2002 survey, this report compares survey findings with data from the 1984 supplement to HS&B concerning program goals, written plans, and guidance activities.7
NCES conducted the 2002 survey using the Fast Response Survey System (FRSS). The FRSS is designed to collect small amounts of issue-oriented data with minimal burden on the respondents and to disseminate findings within a relatively short time period. Questionnaires were mailed to a nationally representative sample of 1,001 public high schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia in January 2002. Principals were instructed to have the questionnaire completed by a lead guidance counselor or another staff member who was responsible for providing guidance services at the school. Most respondents (90 percent) were guidance counselors. Data have been weighted to yield national estimates. The weighted response rate is 94 percent. Detailed information about the survey methodology is provided in appendix A, and the questionnaire can be found in appendix B.
The summary tables report national estimates by the following school characteristics:8
The section on selected findings discusses survey findings by four of the school characteristics listed above - enrollment size, locale, percent college bound, and number of vocational courses offered per 100 students. In general, comparisons by these school characteristics are discussed only where significant differences were detected and follow meaningful patterns.10 All specific statements of comparisons made in this report have been tested for statistical significance using trend tests or t-tests adjusted for multiple comparisons using the Bonferroni adjustment.11 Comparison statements are significant at the 95 percent confidence level. The reader is referred to the methodology section (appendix A) for further details on the statistical methods used and on the school characteristics variables listed here.
It is important to note that many of these school characteristics may be related to each other. For example, school size and locale are related, with city schools typically being larger than rural schools. Other relationships between these analysis variables may exist. However, this E.D. Tab report focuses on bivariate relationships between the analysis and questionnaire variables rather than more complex analyses.12