ISCA Position Statements

The Equitable Treatment of Iowa's Students - download the statement

Mental Health Access for Iowa's Students - download the statement

The Role of the School Counselors in Iowa - download the statement

Address Funding Inequities in Iowa's Schools - download the statement


The Equitable Treatment of Iowa's Students

ISCA supports the right of every student, regardless of ZIP code, to a secure, healthy, and robust educational environment so they are able to learn.

Rationale

Iowa students--regardless of age, color, creed, national origin, race, religion, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical attributes, physical or mental disability, ancestry, political beliefs, socioeconomic status, or familial status--are entitled to safe and effective learning environments where they are held to high standards, guaranteed a rigorous education with access to the resources and materials needed for academic, social-emotional, and career success. Only with this will all students reach their potential and contribute their utmost to our communities. 

The School Counselor’s Role

     School counselors recognize that barriers to academic, career, and social-emotional success originate inside and outside the school building and work with educational and community leaders to identify and eradicate these barriers

     School counselors ensure the delivery of a comprehensive school counseling program to all students, working with students in classrooms, small groups, and individually to ensure all students have the skills they need for  academic, career, and social-emotional competence

     School counselors strive to be multiculturally competent and work with systems and individuals to eradicate barriers blocking the academic, career, and/or social-emotional success of groups of students (ASCA, 2016)

     School counselors use data to identify gaps between and among students in enrollment patterns, completion rates, and academic success, investigate the causes of these gaps, and work to remedy them

     School counselors collaborate with teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders to address student learning needs

     School counselors fully support education and civil rights policies guaranteeing the right of all students equitable access to programs, and advocate for change when access is not equitable

     School counselors address culture and climate issues that may factor into students feeling unsafe or unwelcome at school and work with administrators, teachers, and students to address these issues

     School counselors ensure all students and families have the information and assistance they need to enable post-secondary success (e.g., application assistance, financial aid information)

     School counselors act as a resource when students or families feel they have been treated unfairly, documenting concerns, gathering information, and working to find solutions

Summary

School counselors are in a position to identify opportunity and achievement gaps between and among groups of students, and work with others for systemic changes that allow all students fair and equitable opportunities for success in school and beyond. School counselors work with individuals and groups so schools are safe spaces for all students to experience success.

References

American School Counselor Association. (2012a). The ASCA National Model: A framework for school counseling programs (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Author.

American School Counselor Association. (2016). ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors. Alexandria, VA: Author.

Iowa Department of Education. (2014). Protected Classes Chart. Des Moines, IA. Retrieved from https://www.educateiowa.gov/documents/accreditation-program-approvals/2013/03/protected-classes-chart.


Mental Health Access for Iowa's Students

ISCA supports increased statewide access to and funding for mental health services for youth and their families.

Rationale

It is estimated that 20% of youth have a mental health disorders and most mental health disorders begin in childhood (Child Mind Institute, 2016). Youth whose mental health needs are not adequately met experience more less success in school than their those whose mental health needs are not addressed (Fazel, Hoagwood, Stephan, & Ford, 2014). Those with mental health concerns sometimes experience difficulties achieving the positive educational outcomes educators desire for their students: academic, social-emotional, and career success. An increase in equitable access to and funding for mental health services for Iowa’s school-age youth and their families will lead to better outcomes for students.

The School Counselor’s Role

     School counselors work to establish an environment where all students feel welcome and accepted, and examine school climate data to ensure this occurs

     School counselors develop relationships with students and examine student data so they can intervene early and appropriately when students exhibit behaviors of concern

     School counselors support student success by encouraging the development of the whole self, including mental well-being, as set forth in the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors (2014)

     As part of a comprehensive school counseling program, school counselors offer classroom lessons that emphasize acceptance of others and the importance of mental health, serving to destigmatize students with mental health disorders

     School counselors serve on teams that promote social-emotional learning across the school environment and teams that identify students in need of assistance and provide supports to them, including students with mental health concerns

     School counselors are trusted adults who students and families in distress turn to in times of crisis and as such provide referrals to community or school-based mental health providers for students with on-going needs

     Because students who have access to school-based mental health services are more likely to seek out mental health care (Child Mind Institute, 2016), school counselors facilitate relationships with community agencies that provide school-based mental health counseling and act as liaisons between community- and school-based mental health providers and the school

     School counselors advocate for and address the needs of students with mental health concerns with teachers and administrators

     School counselors directly assist students in crisis and work with others to establish protocols for school personnel to use when engaging with students in crisis

     School counselors provide resources to others, educating school personnel on signs of potential mental health concerns 

Summary

School counselors are a vital part of the continuum of care in addressing student mental health needs, as advocated for by Adelman and Taylor (2006). As such, they are in a position to see the need for mental health care for students and struggle with the inequitable distribution of services across the state, with some communities well-served by mental health care providers and others with far too few resources to meet the need. All students deserve adequate mental health care delivered by qualified mental health professionals. 

References

Adelman, H. and L. Taylor (2006). Mental Health in Schools and Public Health. Public Health Reports, 121.

American School Counselor Association (2014). Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success: K-12 College- and Career-Readiness Standards for Every Student. Alexandria, VA: Author

Child Mind Institute (2016). Children’s Mental Health Report. New York: Author. childmind.org/2016report                                                               

Fazel, M., Hoagwood, K. Stephan, S. and T. Ford. (2014). Mental Health Interventions in Schools in High- Income Countries. Lancet Psychiatry, 1(5), 337-387. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(14)70312-8


The Role of the School Counselors in Iowa

ISCA supports promoting the unique role of the school counselor in providing access to social-emotional learning, college and career planning for post-secondary success, and academic supports for all students. 

Rationale

The ASCA National Model brings school counselors together with one vision and one voice, which creates unity and focus toward improving student achievement (ASCA, 2012a). The School Counselor Competencies (ASCA, 2012b) outline the knowledge, attitudes, and skills that ensure school counselors are equipped to meet the rigorous demands of the profession and the needs of our preK-12 students. The ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors specify the principles of ethical behavior necessary to maintain the highest standard of integrity, leadership, and professionalism for the school counselor’s integral role in the education of our youth (ISCA, 2014). The effective school counselor utilizes student standards under three broad domains to promote behaviors that enhance the learning process: academic, career, and social/emotional development. When school counselors thrive in their role, excelling in counselor competencies, ethical standards, and in ASCA model components, it maximizes students’ ability to be career and college ready, as well as fulfilling the needs in the workforce and community at large.

The School Counselor’s Role

     School counselors serve as leaders in the school and community to promote and support student success, collaborating with parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders, and others to do so

     School counselors intentionally employ leadership, advocacy, and collaboration skills as a part of a comprehensive school counseling program, acting as change agents to create an environment promoting and supporting success for all students

     School counselors analyze school and school counseling program data to show the impact of the school counseling program on student achievement and determine how students are different as a result of the comprehensive program, and analyze school counseling program assessments to guide future action and improve future results for all students (ASCA, 2012a)

     School counselors understand the inherent diversity of the student population and the differentiated needs for delivery, equity, and access for each student

     School counselors deliver instruction to students in a variety of environments and methods, not only in the classroom setting, but also in individual and small group settings

     School counselors use a multi-tiered system of supports to establish and implement the school counseling program, using data to determine which students require academic or behavioral interventions, and ensuring intervention for high-needs and underrepresented students and groups

     School counselors understand the effect social-emotional development has on academic and post-secondary success, and promote social-emotional learning as a necessary component of student achievement (ASCA, 2017b)

     School counselors work to identify the social-emotional needs of students and implement age appropriate interventions intended to promote healthy development

     School counselors provide information about community mental health services to students and families in crisis and/or in need of ongoing mental health services

     School counselors adhere to ASCA’s Ethical Standards and state licensing requirements when addressing student mental health concerns (ASCA, 2017b)

     School counselors address academic development by promoting high expectations and achievement for all students (ASCA, 2017a)

     School counselors promote rigor and ensure all students have access to rigorous coursework (ASCA, 2017a)

     School counselors identify systemic barriers and gaps that may prevent students from achieving college and career readiness (ASCA, 2012a) and work to remedy these barriers

     School counselors understand the importance of process, perception, and outcome data in designing, implementing, and evaluating all components of the school counseling program (ISCA, 2014)

     School counselors collaborate with teachers, administrators, and others to analyze data and use the results of the analysis to address student learning needs

     School counselors provide opportunities for and encourage students to engage with the larger community to learn about the role their own interests and abilities play in the life of the community

     School counselors foster collaborative relationships with others to supplement the offerings of the comprehensive school counseling program

     School counselors provide opportunities for students to identify and match interests and abilities with career choices and assist with course selection so students are well-prepared to meet post-secondary goals

     School counselors provide information and assistance with understanding and completing the necessary steps to post-secondary success: applications for post-secondary educational opportunities (community college, vocational and technical programs, 4-year colleges and universities, apprenticeship programs, military and national service), financial aid and scholarship searches, and admissions testing

Summary

Advocacy, leadership, and collaboration, used to create positive systemic change, stand as pillars to the role of the school counselor. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recognized our important role as advocates, leaders, and master collaborators when she stated, “Engaged school counselors are the deciding factor in whether our young people attend college or not….they are the key.” As engaged and committed school counselors, we advocate, lead, and collaborate for and with students in many ways that work towards accomplishing district, building, and individual school counseling programs’ mission and vision. In alignment with their mission and vision, and as a result to their work in these essential skills, school counselors strive to ensure access, equity, and success for all students in graduating citizen, college, and career ready.

References

American School Counselor Association. (2012a). The ASCA National Model: A framework for school counseling programs (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Author.

American School Counselor Association. (2012b). ASCA school counselor competencies (Rev. ed.). Alexandria, VA: Author. Dimmitt, C. (2009).

American School Counselor Association. (2016). ASCA National Model implementation guide: Foundation, management and accountability. Alexandria, VA: Author

American School Counselor Association. (2017a). The School Counselor and Academic Development. Alexandra, VA: Author.

American School Counselor Association. (2017b). The School Counselor and Social/Emotional Development. Alexandra, VA: Author.

American School Counselor Association. (2015). The School Counselor and Student Mental Health. Alexandra, VA: Author.

Iowa School Counselor Association. (2014). Evaluation Supplement for School Counselors. Des Moines, IA: Author.


Address Funding Inequities in Iowa's Schools

ISCA supports adequate funding to allow a quality 21st century K-12 education that prepares students for their futures.

Rationale

Public schools, area education agencies, and community colleges must be positioned to prepare all students to meet the demands of the 21st century workforce. Inadequate and inequitable funding prevents students from accessing the curricula, materials, technology, and support necessary to meet their academic, social-emotional, and career goals as they prepare to meet their current and future needs. Inadequate and inequitable funding hurts all students, but it is recognized as hurting the most vulnerable students and communities to a greater extent (Camera, 2018). 

The School Counselor’s Role

     School counselors identify barriers to educational opportunities and work with teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders, including elected officials, to recognize and remove them

     School counselors advocate for and assist all K-12 students regardless of background in preparing for and accessing post-secondary opportunities (ASCA, 2016)

     School counselors in Iowa advocate with legislators to preserve and restore state funding to increase opportunities for all students

     School counselors in Iowa advocate with legislators to allow flexibility with funding formulas to increase opportunities for all students

     School counselors in Iowa support services for those disadvantaged in completing post-secondary training, particularly low-income and underrepresented minorities, including a system that better aligns human services, workforce development, education and training providers, and community based organizations (Future Ready Iowa, 2017)

Summary

School counselors are well-positioned to assist with the goal of increasing the number of students who pursue post-secondary education (Office of the Governor, et al, 2017), but inadequate and inequitable funding limits the opportunities of all students, especially those who are at-risk or have other needs.  

References

American School Counselor Association. (2016). ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors. Alexandria, VA: Author.

Camera, L. (2018, January 11). U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to Congress: Make School Funding More Equitable. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/education-news/articles/2018-01-11/us-commission-on-civil-rights-to-congress-make-school-funding-more-equitable.

Future Ready Iowa Alliance. (2017). Future Ready Iowa Alliance Final Recommendations. Des Moines, IA: Future Ready Iowa Alliance.

Office of the Governor, Iowa Board of Regents, Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Economic Development Authority, and Iowa Workforce Development. (2017). Metrics That Matter. Des Moines, IA: Future Ready Iowa Alliance. 




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