CSCORE's projects include research, program evaluation, consultation, and professional development. Listed below are our current endeavors.
- RTTT 4C
- Elementary & Secondary Demonstration Grant: Agawam, Massachusetts Public Schools
- Elementary & Secondary Demonstration Grant: Central Falls, Rhode Island Public Schools
- Multi-State Evaluation Project
- NOSCA-CSCORE Fellows Program
Professional Development Training for RTTT 4C Districts
Massachusetts is one of 12 states that were funded in the national Race to the Top competition, funded by the U.S. Department of Education to promote reform in four areas: standards and assessments, great teachers and leaders, school turnaround, and data systems. Half of RTTT funding is allocated to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for enhanced data systems, model curriculum, evaluation and other state infrastructure to continue to support the education reform begun in the Commonwealth in 1993. The balance of RTTT funding has been allocated to over 250 participating school districts and charter schools who have signed on to the challenge of implementing RTTT programs at the local level. RTTT resources will allow us to build the skills, expand the capacity, create the tools, and harness the technology needed to close persistent achievement gaps while increasing achievement for all. Focus on development and implementation of college and career readiness initiatives to better prepare all students for post-secondary success.
Elementary & Secondary Demonstration Grants
Agawam, Massachusetts Public Schools
Through its three-year, million dollar Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant, the Agawam Massachusetts Public School district is developing a comprehensive developmental elementary school counseling program that promotes success for all students through improved academic achievement, increased school engagement, reduced disciplinary events, and a safe school environment.
Two school counselors, plus a school social worker and school psychologist were hired to reduce ratios of student support personnel in the elementary schools. Job descriptions for the new school counselors were written to reflect roles and responsibilities consistent with the MASCA school counseling model. Classroom guidance lessons, using evidence based curricula whenever possible, are being delivered to every classroom in grades Kindergarten through 6th and the guidance staff has developed a full Scope and Sequence of classroom lessons. In addition, Building-Based Data Success Teams have been created at each of the district’s four elementary schools. The Teams are comprised of the building principal, teachers from each grade level, the school counselor, and other school personnel. School counselors are serving as leaders and advocates in collaborative and accountability-driven initiatives, using data to determine when it is necessary to develop Tiers 1, 2, and 3 behavioral and academic interventions. Nationally recognized experts have provided extensive professional development to the school counseling staff on all aspects of Model implementation. Grant personnel are working to create systemic changes with a preventative rather than a reactive approach and a focus on early intervention for students at-risk for academic and behavioral challenges.
As evaluator of this Federal Department of Education grant, CSCORE is working closely with the administration and counseling staff of the Agawam Public Schools to measure progress in each of the grants’ stated goals and outcomes. Multiple data collection methods are being employed in order to collect both strong qualitative and quantitative data from numerous constituencies, including students, parents, school counselors, and other school staff and administration. CSCORE conducted a focus group with the school Advisory Council to gather information about what staff felt were the most pressing needs of their students; created a Parent Survey to measure parent/guardian perceptions of the school counseling program and of school climate; administered a teacher-rated survey to measure student academic engagement; conducted a student survey to gauge impact of the district’s pro-social curricula such as Second Step, Steps to Respect, and PBIS; and is collecting numerous institutional data to measure changes in discipline referrals and behavioral incidents, monitor improvement in different academic indicators, and disaggregate data for specific populations to work towards closing the achievement gap. In addition, CSCORE has provided professional development to the Agawam school counseling staff on topics related to evaluating interventions, data-based decision making, accountability, and evidence-based counseling.
Central Falls, Rhode Island Public Schools
The Central Falls, Rhode Island school district was awarded a three year, million dollar Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant in spring of 2009, and contracted with CSCORE to serve as evaluator of the grant. Central Falls serves a student population with a rich ethnic and linguistic diversity and faces myriad challenges related to low socioeconomic status and high mobility rates.
Federally-mandated outcomes for the grant included reducing the school counselor-to-student ratio and decreasing the number of disciplinary incidents in the district’s elementary schools. Prior to the grant, the district did not employ any school counselors at the elementary level. Therefore the first priority of the grant team was to hire four professional school counselors to work at each of the district’s elementary schools. These new school counselors participated in a five-day summer Professional Development Institute led by a team of nationally-recognized experts in the field of school counseling, including staff from CSCORE, and covered such topics as data, accountability, evaluation, curriculum, and leadership.
CSCORE began tracking disciplinary data to determine if the work of the new school counselors was positively impacting the number of disciplinary referrals in the elementary schools. The first step in this process was to create a standardized Office Discipline Referral (ODR) form to be used by all of the elementary schools. Baseline data were collected on both minor and major infractions using a hard copy, paper-and-pencil form. During the 2009-2010 school year the district installed a new student information system with a functionality related to discipline referrals. CSCORE is working with the district’s Informational Technology department to customize the new student information system to gather and report discipline data and to move towards an electronic ODR process. In spring 2010 one elementary school piloted the new electronic version of the Office Discipline Referral form and it is anticipated that by fall 2010 all four elementary schools will be recording disciplinary incidents electronically. This uniform and electronic referral process will provide more detailed and nuanced information about discipline referrals that counselors can then use to more effectively tailor specific social/emotional interventions to certain students or classrooms.
CSCORE also worked closely with the Central Falls elementary counselors to create Support Personnel Accountability Report Cards for the district. SPARCs are a continuous improvement tool that gives a school site an opportunity to demonstrate effective communication and a commitment to getting results. The SPARC has been developed by a school counselor advisory group in Los Angeles and each year the Rhode Island School Counseling Association gives awards to school districts submitting exemplary SPARCri. To create a SPARC for their schools, the elementary counselors used the data-based decision making process considered best practice in the field including collecting and examining baseline data for areas in need of improvement, developing interventions, measuring the impact of those interventions through pre and post data, and sharing results with the larger school community.
Additional Year One project activities to meet grant-specified goals and objectives have included training for all of the school counselors on Student Success Skills, an evidence-based curriculum, by the developer of that curriculum; constructing a pre-K to 5 scope and sequence for the school counseling department; creating a Curriculum Framework for School Counseling that delineates and describes the elementary school counseling program and its curriculum; writing an Administrative Handbook for School Counseling that defines the operational side of the school counseling program including roles and accountabilities and strategic and annual planning; delivering classroom curriculum at each grade level with embedded measures to assess student progress; creating brochures in multiple languages to introduce the elementary school counseling program to families and to inform families of services provided by the new counselors; and building capacity among the new school counselors through regular professional development.
Multi-State Evaluation Project
CSCORE recently completed a large evaluation study to examine the contribution of counseling programs and practices to student educational outcomes. The states of Connecticut, Missouri, Nebraska, Utah, and Rhode Island participated in the evaluation study. School-level outcome data such as attendance and suspension rates and school-level demographic data such as per pupil expenditures and the percentage of students eligible for free/reduced lunch were obtained from the Department of Education of each state. Principals and Guidance Directors from every public high school in each state were invited to complete an electronic version of the Principal and School Counselor Survey (Lapan & Carey, 2007) to collect information about school counseling practices and programs at each high school.
The evaluation model analyzed the relationship of school counseling program characteristics to student outcomes after controlling for the variability in outcomes related to demographic differences among schools. More detailed correlational analyses were then conducted to identify which specific practices were associated with identified student outcomes.Results of CSCORE's Multi-State School Counseling Research Project: Power Point presentation given at the 2010 American School Counselor Association Conference.
NOSCA-CSCORE's Fellows Program
The National Office for School Counselor Advocacy (NOSCA) and the Center for School Counseling Outcome Research & Evaluation(CSCORE) have established the NOSCA-CSCORE Fellows Program. This initiative is intended to address the inequities in college counseling as it relates to the efficacy of school counselor training and practice through quality research conducted at the doctoral level. This initiative is important because research that informs and guides evidenced-based training and practice increases accountability in an era of mandated outcomes for counseling professionals.