UMass Center for School Counseling Outcome Research Awarded Institute of Educational Sciences Grant

Amherst, MA - April 20, 2011 - The Ronald H. Fredrickson Center for School Counseling Outcome Research and Evaluation (CSCORE) in the College of Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst, in collaboration with Florida Atlantic University, was recently awarded an Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) grant for the project: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Student Success Skills: A Program to Improve Academic Achievement for All Students Social and Behavioral Context for Academic Learning. The total grant award is approximately $2.7 million for the four-year project.

Dr. John Carey, Professor of School Counseling and Director of CSCORE, will serve as co-principal investigator for the project and will supervise operations at the University of Massachusetts Amherst including instrument development, maintenance of longitudinal data sets, and analysis of data. Dr. Craig Wells, Associate Professor in Research and Evaluation Methods Program and Assistant Director of the Center for Educational Assessment and Dr. Aline Sayer, Associate Professor in Psychology, will serve as statistical consultants for the project. Karen Harrington, Assistant Director at CSCORE, will act as project coordinator for all UMass-related activities. Public schools in Duval County and Palm Beach, Florida will be the school-based research partners for this project.

IES is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Its mission is to provide rigorous and relevant evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information broadly. IES has helped raise the bar for all education research and evaluation by conducting peer-reviewed scientific studies, demanding high standards, and supporting and training researchers across the country. IES funds top educational reseachers nationwide to conduct studies that seek answers on what works for students from preschools to postsecondary. Since its creation by the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, IES has transformed the quality and rigor of education research within the Department of Education and increased the demand for scientifically based evidence of effectiveness in the education field as a whole.

Student Success Skills (SSS) is a program designed to teach students fundamental learning, social, and self-management skills to improve student achievement and behavior outcomes. SSS is based on a strong body of theoretical and empirical research and uses developmentally appropriate student lessons, activities, and teaching strategies. The program has been widely used in elementary, middle, and high schools across the country for the past seven years. SSS program developers have to date trained approximately 9,000 school counselors and teachers in fifteen states; in addition, international school counselors working in American Schools in approximately 13 Central and South America countries have received SSS program training.

CSCORE is dedicated to improving educational opportunities and outcomes for all children through identifying and developing research-based, and effective school counseling practices. CSCORE conducts and disseminates findings from research about career, social/emotional, and academic interventions; provides K-12 leaders and practitioners with information about data-based decision-making, evidence-based practices, and program evaluation; and provides international leadership in the measurement of the outcome of school counseling interventions and programs. CSCORE is currently consulting with two districts that have been awarded Elementary and Seconday School Counseling Demonstration grants to improve their elementary school conseling programs. CSCORE has also recently worked with the Departments of Education from five different states, including Connecticut, Missouri, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Utah, supporting their statewide evaluations of school counseling programs. In addition, CSCORE faculty has conducted an evaluation of the impact of The Real Game curriculum in five school districts across the United States. CSCORE also works extensively with the Massachusetts Department of Education and numerous school districts on implementing research-based school counseling, career counseling, college transitioning, and educational initiatives.


Center for School Counseling Outcome Research & Evaluation

357 Hills South – College of Education

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Amherst, MA 01003-9308

Phone: (413) 545-3619 or (413) 545-4179
Fax: (413) 545-1523


CSCORE Evaluating ESSCP grant

Randolph Public Schools

The Randolph, Massachusetts Public Schools were awarded a three-year Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (ESSCP) grant in fall of 2012. CSCORE is the evaluator for the grant’s project, The Asset-Based Culture, which is designed to provide the necessary foundational elements for building a transformed school counseling program. Year one of the grant was devoted to building the infrastructure for the project, including hiring four school counselors, offering professional development on topics ranging from evidence-based practice to cultural competency, and establishing baseline information on important data indicators. Now in its second year of the project, the Grant Team is spearheading a number of project initiatives, including developing a new Office Discipline Referral form to provide a standardized mechanism for collecting data related to disciplinary infractions; creating standards-based report cards with a Protective Factor Index to record important behavioral data; offering a summer transition program for students moving from the district’s elementary schools to the middle school; and developing an evidence-based school counseling curriculum that will be delivered in all elementary classrooms.

The new Office Discipline Referral (ODR) form and the standards-based elementary report cards were developed through a collaborative endeavor among administrators, teachers from each grade level, elementary school counselors, the Grant’s Project Manager (Unique Potential) and Grant Evaluator (CSCORE). The ODR now categorizes disciplinary infractions by three different levels depending on the nature and severity of the presenting issue; the ODR also records location of incident, classroom management and behavioral strategies used to address the problem behavior, and administrative action taken. Other important data related to student behavior will be gathered through the Protective Factor Index section of the new standards-based report cards. The Protective Factor Index is composed of indicators that reflect the skills, attitudes, and dispositions which research has demonstrated link to academic achievement and school success. Grade-level rubrics detailing the expected developmental progression for each of the Protective Factors were also created to assist teachers in accurately and consistently scoring students’ behaviors.

Establishing systemwide structures for capturing data about student engagement – from discipline information collected on the electronic ODR forms to academic and social skills development indicators included on trimester report cards – provides rich and “real time” information for parents, school counselors, and other school staff on the multiple factors that can influence student achievement. Grant school counselors will review and disaggregate data from the Protective Factor Index to determine if gaps exist in social/emotional or academic skill areas and will focus their weekly Success Class lessons on teaching these competencies. Counselors will then review subsequent report card and ODR data to evaluate the impact of their classroom guidance lessons on students’ behavior and skill development. The Grant Team partnered with the district’s Informational Technology department to enable electronic recording of all ODR and report card data and to create user-friendly reports from the various academic, discipline, attendance and other data indicators. These tailored reports will allow school counselors and members of Randolph’s data Student Support Teams to identify trends both at the student and building level and to determine which universal, targeted, or individual interventions are indicated to reduce problem behaviors in the classroom, encourage more learning-focused environments, and to create a safer school climate. The report cards will be piloted this year and the roll out will include information and training for both staff and parents.

The ESSCP project also included development of a summer transition-focused “Bootcamp.” After hearing anecdotal information from teachers about students being unprepared for the greater academic and social demands faced in middle school, grant counselors decide to collect data from the students themselves about their experience in moving from elementary to middle school. Quantitative and qualitative survey data from sixth graders indicated that many students were anxious about this important transition and would have appreciated more support and information about the process. Educational research demonstrates that many students experience a decline in academic performance, attendance, and motivation during the transition from elementary to middle school. The school counselors therefore combined information gleaned from the research base, along with teacher and student data, to create a weeklong summer Bootcamp transition program that was free of charge and open to all district fifth graders. The school counselors used evidence-based curricula including Student Success Skills, Why Try? and The Real Game to teach the organizational and study strategies and the principles of motivation and career development that are critical to success in middle school. School counselors will administer the same transition survey to this year’s 6th grade students to measure the impact of the summer Bootcamp on students’ experience in starting middle school.

The four grant counselors created a comprehensive and developmental set of guidance lessons that align with the three domains of the ASCA National Model. School counselors will deliver a guidance lesson in every elementary classroom each week of the school year. In addition, the counselors were trained on how to collect process, perception and results data on each lesson to measure both learning and changes in students’ behavior.

CSCORE Power Point Presentations at National Conferences