School Counselor Advocacy at the District Level

Advocacy in Times of
Financial Adversity:
Practical Strategies to Advocate
for School Counseling Programs
at the State, District, and
Building Levels During Tough
Financial Times
What is
Advocacy and
why is it so
ASCA’s Vision
The American School Counselor Association
(ASCA) is the foundation that expands the image
and influence of professional school counselors
through advocacy, leadership, collaboration and
systemic change. ASCA empowers professional
school counselors with the knowledge, skills,
linkages and resources to promote student
success in the school, the home, the community
and the world.
ASCA’s Vision (cont.)
• Collaboration with stakeholders
• How advocacy fits with collaboration?
• Leadership
• How advocating at the building, district, and
state level supports student achievement?
• Promoting systemic change
• How advocacy fits with promoting systemic
WSCA’s Vision
WSCA Government Relations Committee
• The Advocacy arm of the Wa. School Counselor Assoc.
• We work with the executive board to set a yearly
legislative agenda, track and respond to issues of interest,
and provide training for other counselors, counselor
educators and graduate students.
Goal 3: Advocacy
To advocate for school counselors and students by educating
legislative and education policymakers and other
stakeholders about best practices in school counseling.
School Counselor
Advocacy at the
State Level
Why Advocate at the
State Level?
Legislators have the ultimate say on funding for K-12 education!
Few lawmakers or other education advocates/stakeholders truly
know what school counselors do and how vital their role is.
Working collaboratively with lawmakers can provide
funding/support for programs that help counselors be more
Some ed. reform (groups) are pushing hard for Charter Schools!
Current ed. reform studies have given legislators a better
understanding of the impact of effective school counseling.
They’re beginning to understand that students need
comprehensive advising! 
What has WSCA done lately?
• Work yearly with WSCA Board to draft a legislative agenda as an
advocacy framework.
• Feb. 10 – Day on the Hill (increased number of participants by 30%).
• Meetings w/ Education & Education Appropriations Cmte. Members.
• Offered testimony on student Health & Wellness at Legislators’ request.
• Successful language change in HB2170 – worked w/ sponsoring
Legislator to add in “school counselors” where appropriate.
• Began establishing a relationship with OSPI to help draft our own
Counselor Evaluation System based on our best practices (similar to
• Worked with WEA, STAND and LEV to better understand the education
reform issues at play during the 2012 session.
• Tracked bills and testified – Career Pathways, Early Learning, Ed. reform
(“looping”), TANF funds.
• Hired a Legislative Liaison to help WSCA advocate for you…..
What does our Legislative Liaison do?
• Outside of Session
• Meet with Education Committee members and other
stakeholders/legislators when needed, often with a Counselor
• Provide guidance for the WSCA Board about potential issues of
• Attend Board meetings and provide updates/recaps
• During Session
• Track bills of interest and provide WSCA with info. for the website
• Provide the WSCA Board with updates and suggest opportunities
for advocacy
• Meet with Education Committee members and other
stakeholders/legislators when needed, often with a Counselor
• Assist with the WSCA Day on the Hill
• Testify, or help other counselors testify, when needed
How to Testify about a Bill
In order to testify about a bill, you must first know the bill is
being discussed during a public hearing of a particular
committee. You can find this out using the strategies
listed on the handout. Here are some keys to effective
Be prompt
Sign in
Do your homework
Be concise
Use data and personalize
Other ways You can Advocate
Working with (your) State lawmakers
Legislators have hectic schedules but they especially want to hear from their
own constituents, so to get your voice heard, try the following:
• Face-to-face meetings
• Attend Legislators’ “town hall” meetings and other events
• Watch for a District Day
• Phone Calls
• Go to and search by Legislator to find the correct phone number.
• Leave a message with the Legislative Assistant.
• Emails and Letters
• Send letters to your legislators!
• Send emails to the address listed on website.
• Ask the lawmaker to vote “yes” or “no” on a specific bill and explain why. .
• General Strategies
• Be brief
• Bring more facts than opinions
• Be helpful
4 Annual WSCA “Day on the Hill”
February 10, 2012
• 15 School Counselors, Counselor Educators, Counselor Advocates and
Graduate Students from Seattle, Tacoma, Puyallup, Goldendale, Shelton,
Yelm & Olympia met with 26 Representatives and 8 Senators, as well as 3
Legislative Assistants, to talk about the important role of School Counselors
in the academic and personal success of our students.
• We spoke in support of establishing additional birth-to-five early learning
programs (HB2448) and making career exploration a routine part of middle
and high school instruction (HB2170).
• We also expressed our support of the idea behind TPEP, but cautioned that
the system needed to be phased in and that providing funding for resources
and training was critical to ensure its success.
• We were updated about current ed. reform interests and education issues
by LEV, WEA and Stand for Children.
• Our overall message reminded law makers about the critical services we
provide to the students, staff, parents and communities with whom we
work. We offered ourselves as a resource to legislators as well.
Day on the Hill
School Counselor
Advocacy at the
District Level
Why Advocate at the
District Level?
 More district budgets cuts are coming (for most districts)….
 Lack of knowledge or misconceptions about the important role of
school counselors.
 Decisions made by school boards and districts can greatly impact
our day to day job duties.
 Many real-life success stories of jobs/programs saved by district
personnel or school boards.
 Working collaboratively with your district office can make your job
Let’s take a moment to share…..
What’s happening currently in your district
regarding budget cuts, role of the counselor,
duties, current advocacy, etc…..
What are some things that you have been doing,
or what can you do in the future to advocate for
school counselors and/or your program?
Ideas for Advocating Within
Your School District
 Find a champion within your district (parent,
district staff, and/or board member).
 Get organized! Meet regularly with fellow
counselors at the same and different levels.
 Develop a strategic plan with long term and
short term goals.
 Publicize your successes/achievements at an
administrative meeting, parent meeting, and/or
school board meeting.
District Advocacy Ideas (cont.)
 Develop a formal presentation for your school board
promoting the role of the school counselor.
 Never forget the power of parents and students as
advocates for you.
 Ask your school board to develop a policy statement that
supports school counseling.
 Make sure counselors are part of SIP’s and District
Strategic Plans (get on those committees!).
 Encourage your fellow counselors to become involved in
the local and state educators union.
District Advocacy Ideas (cont.)
Other Resources When Advocating (ASCA Website)
• Advantages of Employing School Counselors
• ASCA Position Statement-The Professional School Counselor and
Comprehensive School Counseling Programs
• ASCA Role Statement: The School Counselor
See ASCA Website for other additional handouts and
A Story of Success
A School Counseling Team Asking For
An Additional School Counselor
What Are The Chances Of Success?
We were a school of 1800 with 4 counselors and,
with a caseload of 450:1, we were unable to be
truly effective.
How did we advocate for, and receive, a 5th
counselor? Talk to your neighbor & take a guess…..
How Data Played a Part in our
Successful District-level Advocacy
Counselor Case Loads: A Presentation to our Principal
Olympia High School In 1995, 1345 Students
1345/4= 336 Students per Counselor
Olympia High School in 2006, 1800 Students
1800/4 = 450 Students per Counselor
Note: Since 1995, the Culminating Project, High School and Beyond Plan, and
WASL/HSPE have been added to the existing graduation requirements that
counselors must track.
Other High Schools In Our Area
• Data based on phone calls conducted February 10th, 2006 to district offices:
Student Head Counts (students per counselor), May 2005:
Capital 1469/4 = 367
Avanti 132/1 = 132
Yelm 1340/4 = 335
BHHS 1000/3 = 333
Tumwater 1004/3 – 334
River Ridge 1120/3 = 373
Shelton H.S. 10-12th 977/3 = 325
Choice H.S. 143/1 = Counselor
*** These were all high schools in our
area (within 20 miles)!
Visual Representation
Additional Data in this Case
• Counselors also presented data that showed a rise in the # of
credit deficient students and decrease in the # of on-time
graduates over the past decade, which they attributed in part
to a lack of connection and guidance between students and
their counselors (as a result of high caseloads).
• Once we showed this information to our building principal and
earned his support, we then presented to the school’s Site
Team (where we earned the support of a very strong parent
advocate!) and to the School Board.
• Having both a parent advocate and strong data to support our
position helped us reach our goal of hiring a 5th counseling
position for Olympia High School. 
Types of Data that can Help
Process – “What you did for whom”
Results - “So WHAT” data
• Evidence that event occurred
• How activity was conducted
• Number of events, people
participating, and products developed
• Did the program follow the prescribed
• Hard data
• Proof your program has (or has not)
positively impacted students ability to
utilize the knowledge, attitudes and
skills to effect behavior
• Attendance
• Behavior
• Academic achievement
• Graduation rates
Perception - “What others think,
know or demonstrate”
• Measures competency achieved, knowledge
gained or attitudes beliefs of students
• Pre-post
• Competency achievement
• Surveys
• Evaluations
• Measures what students are perceived to
have gained in knowledge
Trish Hatch, Ph.D. August, 2004
Learn to use results data so that
you can answer the question: “How
are students different because of
the school counseling program?”
School Counselor
Advocacy at the
Building Level
Why Advocate at the
Building Level?
 Not all administrators & staff members know what school
counselors do and how vital their role is to the overall climate,
social/emotional health and academic achievement of the school.
 Your principal has the final say on who to hire, programming,
curriculum, and where the money goes within the school.
 Decisions on the role of the school’s counseling program, the # of
school counselors in the building, and your duties can be heavily
influenced by your administrators.
 Counseling jobs/programs have been created and/or saved by
building principals who were supportive of school counseling.
 Working collaboratively with school administrators can help make
your job easier while helping counselors be more effective!
Ideas for Advocating Within
Your School Building
 Find a champion in your school! It can be an
administrator, a teacher, a parent, or other staff
 Establish a close working relationship with your
administrative team. Utilize the ASCA Counselor Principal Audit. Prioritize good communication!
 Make sure that the counseling program’s long term and
short term goals become part of the school’s strategic
 Work to achieve your goals and then explain your
goals/successes/achievements at a department head or
all staff meeting.
Changing our High School and Beyond
Plan – A Building-level Advocacy Effort
• Most of our previous HS&B plan was a pencil & paper version
delivered by staff through an Advisory system
• The plan itself and individual lessons were static
• The staff & students were not engaged
• Counselors discovered a more individualized, differentiated,
electronic option using the Career Cruising website
• Sharing our plan (to have Counselors deliver the lessons in computer
labs) with admin. earned their buy-in.
• We then proposed the new model to staff , which reduced their
frustration/anxiety with Advisory because we proposed using the
“experts” (us!) as curriculum providers.
• Our new HS&B plan has already been more well received by staff
(who are now “off the hook”!) and students (who now receive an
individualized, dynamic way to explore post-high school options)
Final Thought
Never doubt that a small
group of committed people
can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing
that ever has.
Margaret Mead