Saturday, July 20, 2013

Component 10 - Small Group Responsive Services

This component requires the school to document all small groups conducted during the school year (4-10 sessions) that address a broad variety of student needs (process data).  It also requires detailed session plans for one of the small groups; and a completed small group results report for the highlighted group that must include process, perception, and outcome data.  I suggest you pick a group that links directly to one of the school counseling program goals.   You want to select a group with highly developed activities that make it likely that members will achieve the session objectives.  Perception data is often directly tied to objectives or competencies.  I suggest you submit samples of student work showing the reviewer that the group actually happened.  You can submit a GRIP report as supplementary material to further show the group's impact (graph is included in GRIP).  Make sure in the narrative to make it clear why this group was led, how members were chosen, why a particular counselor led the group, and how the groups results will inform future school counseling groups.  If possible I suggest group members develop individual goals for the group because it personalizes student learning.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Component 9 - School Counseling Core Curriculum: Results Report

This component is designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the school counseling classroom activities and inform program improvement.  The results report summarizes the three exemplary classroom lessons for component 8.  You must use all 3 types of data: process, perception and outcome data.  The narrative should include reflection and insights to what worked and did not work.  This reflection should be discussed in terms of how the lessons will lead to improvement in delivery in the future.  The ASCA template for Results Report must be used.  The data should tell the story of what worked and where improvements need to happen in the future.  I encourage you to PDF copies of actual student work products to give the reviewers a clear idea of how students responded to the lessons activities.   For example, if at the end of a lesson you had each student write and exit ticket showing mastery of the objective, submit a copy of one student's work.  If you used a rubric to score a work product, submit a copy of that as supplementary evidence.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Component 8 - School Counseling Core Curriculum Action Plan and Lesson Plans

The school counseling core curriculum action plan provides details as to how the school counselors will efficiently and effectively deliver the school counseling program.  I personally find the template a bit of a challenge but you must use it to RAMP.  This is a curriculum plan implemented through direct instruction, team teaching or coordination with other educators. The competencies are taught using a variety of curriculum materials and activities.
You must also use the ASCA lesson plan template.  The lessons for RAMP should use school data and be directly linked to the vision, mission, and goals.  Of course the lessons list the ASCA Student Standards, competencies, and indicators.  The lessons need to be very well developed and highly likely to result in student mastery of the selected standards and competencies.  The lesson plans must include a plan for evaluation that addresses process, perception and outcome data.  Make absolutely sure you understand the differences.  You don't need lessons from each counselor, just 3 that meet the criteria.  The narrative must describe how the counselors decide what to deliver, to whom, how to deliver it, and the evaluation process.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Component 7 - Calendars

The annual calendar informs parents, teachers, and administrators about school counseling activities that have an impact on all students as well as stakeholders.  This calendar must reflect the program goals and activities on the school counseling core curriculum action plan.  Two weekly calendars for each school counselor, one from each semester, must be submitted that are highly detailed and correlate with percentage of time allocated in the annual agreement.  The weekly calendar must be clearly coded so direct and indirect services are clearly communicated. If for some reason the weekly calendar you submit for RAMP does NOT match the estimates in the annual agreement, you need to provide an explanation in the narrative.  We go ahead and calculate the percentages for the reviewers and submit this information in the supplementary materials. The narrative describes how the counselors use and adjust the calendar as needed based on situations that arise during the school year.  Our annual calendar is shared with the advisory council at the first meeting.  It is posted on our web page, hung in the counselor's offices, and distributed to administrators and central office supervisor.  Our weekly calendars are kept in Outlook which is the email and calendar system our district uses.  We color code the types of services are periodically calculate percentage of time. We revise our annual calendar each semester to bring it up-to-date with services and events.  We update our weekly calendars daily because it is very easy to do.  We print them out weekly and use to calculate the services we provide.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Component 6 - Advisory Council

The advisory council is a representative group of stakeholders (parent, staff, administration, students, and community) selected to review and advise on the implementation of the school counseling program.  This component requires a list of the members and positions, agendas and minutes from at least two meetings.  To score in the strong or exemplary range, the council must be solely focused on the school counseling program.  The council must be school-specific and not created solely for RAMP.  The narrative provides a detailed explanation of how the council was developed and how it guides the program.  For example, councils may: advise on program goals, review program results, make recommendations, engage in public relations, and advocate for funding and resources for the school counseling program.  Typically the first meeting of the year the program calendar, goals, and evaluation data from the previous school year would be shared with the council.  The council can also be used to assist in the development of the mission and vision.  My council meets quarterly but RAMP only requires two meetings a year. This was our first year adding students.  We invited our SCA president and one of our 5th grade class representatives.  They were very good about coming, paid attention, and helped us with some public relations (made posters for special events and announcements on our school's TV show and PA).  We will definitely continue to include students to get their perspective and feedback.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Component 5 - Annual Agreement

The Annual Agreement is a management tool that outlines how each counselor will use his/her time, specific responsibilities, reflects the school counseling program's mission and program goals, and identifies areas for professional development. It is created and signed within the first two months of the school year. It stipulates the counselor's caseload and scope of work.  The percentage of time aligns with the recommended use of time with 80% allocated to the delivery of the school counseling program or there is a clear explanation in the narrative why it does not. This document ensures formal discussion and agreement about what the program will look like and how each counselor will be working. Some principals may resist signing the agreement initially because they want the counselor to do tasks during the school day that are non-school-counseling duties.  The agreement may need to recognize that re-assignment of tasks takes time.  For example, if the counselor has been spending time chairing student council, an appointment of a co-chair and a plan for that person taking it over the following year could be noted on the agreement and discussed in the write-up.  Some counselors have used the agreement as a way to lessen the time they are pulled away from the counseling program to proctors tests.  It is very helpful to discuss with the administrator the plan for professional development.  Frequently, school counselors are forced to sit through a lot of teacher professional development when it would be more helpful for them to seek other opportunities that build counseling related skills. It can be very useful if the district has informed principals that it is a system wide decision to implement the ASCA model and this is part of the process.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Component 4 ASCA Student Standards - Competencies and Indicators

In the third edition the standards we used to call ASCA standards were renamed "ASCA Student Standards." The ASCA Student Standards are organized in three broad domains: academic, career and personal/social. Most programs use a combination of the ASCA specific indicators, state school counseling program standards, and local standards as the foundation for classroom lessons, small groups and activities.  Now ASCA is encouraging using other standards as well, such as Framework for 21st Century Learning and the Six Pillars of Character.  Standards we find useful is NOSCA's Eight Components of College and Career Readiness Counseling. In other words in this section you must tell how you selected the ASCA Student Standards that guide your program and what other standards you also use and why. Like the other components they must be linked to the school counseling program's vision, mission and goals.  In the narrative you must address how they are reviewed and revised each year. The ASCA Student Standards: Program Planning Tool can assist you in making sure your program is comprehensive (covers all the competencies).  Some school districts do a crosswalk to the local, state, and ASCA Student Standards which is very useful.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Component 3 School Counseling Program Goals

This section is new with the third edition and in my opinion the most important.  Many of the other components are directly linked to this one.  Read carefully the section in the Model on program goals and remember they must "address specific student outcomes, including improved student achievement, attendance, behavior and safety..."  The goals must be based on school data - really outcome data like test scores, report card grades, attendance data, and office referrals and bullying reports.  The goals need to reflect the needs of your school. This is a challenge at the elementary level.  Think in terms of a goal you could lead a group to address, a goal for the classroom lessons you want to highlight, and a goal for closing the gap.  The more you can tie the components together the better.  The goals have to be written in the SMART format. Your program goals  are expected to define "how the vision and mission will be measured."  You can address that in the narrative.  In the narrative you must discuss how goals were developed, how they address student learning and/or student inequalities, how they are founded in the data.  These should be developed in September and guide the program for the school year.  In the advisory council section it states the council assists school counselors by advising on program goals so be sure to address that in your narrative in both components.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Component 2 Mission Statement

"The school counseling mission statement provides the focus and direction to reach the vision, creating one focus in the implementation of the comprehensive school counseling program," according to ASCA.  The vision statement states where you want your program to take your students, the mission is how you will get them there. The mission statement tells what the counseling program does, its purpose.  A mission statement can change but it must reflect the beliefs of the counselors.  We chose to revise ours from several years ago because our district's mission statement had changed and our beliefs were slightly altered by the third edition of the model.  We began by looking at our district's new mission statement, reviewing our school's mission statement, and reflecting on our draft beliefs and vision statement.  The focus must be on the students which we choose to call learners.  It should address ALL students and have a future focus. Think about what is unique about  your program compared to the overall school's mission. Most counseling program mission statements will talk about addressing academic, career, and personal/social development. In the narrative you must talk about what you chose to include or exclude in your mission statement. For example, all our school rules are about creating a safe, caring, and respectful learning environment so we chose to use those words in our mission statement.  Our advisory council was very involved in the development of our original mission statement and they made suggestions and reviewed changes to our newly revised mission statement.  The advisory council has staff, parents, and students which represent the main audience for the mission statement so it makes sense to involve them in the development of the mission statement. We think our new mission statement is clearer and its shorter which our council thought was helpful.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Component 1 Vision Statement

Under the third edition the foundation section of the Model includes program focus, student competencies, and professional competencies.  You actually begin by developing (if you have not already done so) a list of beliefs the school counseling team thinks are important.  There is an exercise in the book on page 22 that may help. It is important to develop a comprehensive list of beliefs about effective school counseling.  This gets submitted as part of this component. You also need to submit a copy of your district and school vision statement if they have one, if not you should state that in the narrative write up for this section.  The narrative is 300-750 words describing the process you went through to to develop a vision statement for the counseling program that aligns with the school and district vision statements and communicates what want to see in the future for the school community related to student achievement and other outcomes. They are talking about what you want students to be doing five to fifteen years away.  The counselor can write this or solicit input from the school counseling advisory council.  The narrative must explain how the beliefs must influence the vision statement.  Allow yourself time to go through several drafts of the vision statement.  It should be bold and inspiring which I think means it can't be too long.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Getting Started

The School Counseling Program Assessment will guide you where you need to further develop your counseling program to fully implement the third edition of the ASCA National Model.  Go to the ASCA web page and under Application Process download all the required templates, also download and print the entire rubric.  I recommend you get a large 3 ring binder and tabs for the 12 components.  Even though you are going to submit the document electronically you need a hard copy of everything.  You are going to need to show your work to people who need to sign off for submission.  I put all my documents in plastic sleeves.  I find that easier than punching holes and they last longer.  My binder from 3 years ago still looks great (on the left) and lots of folks have actually looked at it.  Right behind the tab I put a copy of the level 5 section of that rubric so I know exactly what I am aiming to communicate to the reviewers in each component.  My new binder has pockets on the inside front and back cover.  These are useful to store back up information you might need - like a copy of your district and school management plan or data.  The table of contents of your binder can be used as your organizer about what you are going to do for each section.  You have many decisions to make along the way (e.g., which group to highlight).  Most can't be made until you set program goals for the year, more about that in a future post.  Start by buying a nice binder, tabs, and a box of plastic sleeves.  You may want to buy a thumb drive to store your entire application as well.  I have one with only my original RAMP application and my current re-RAMP documents.  I also store a copy of everything for RAMP in a folder in my Dropbox.  If I would ever loose the thumb drive it is also stored in the cloud.

Monday, July 8, 2013

RAMP Resources

There is not much available as far as good samples for the revised RAMP process based on the third edition. Be careful if you find items online because most of what is out there is from the second edition.  The best free resource for ASCA Members is the 2013 Webinar and PowerPoint "Take the On RAMP by Jill Cook.  Free webinar
The webinar will explain a clear overview of the process which is very useful if you have not done this before.  It explains the rubrics (available on the ASCA website) which you will want to download.  Each of the 12 components of RAMP applications are scored on a 1-5 scale.  The aim is to get all 4s and 5s to add up to 54 or better out of a possible 60 points.  The PowerPoint and Webinar that are archived on the ASCA web site walk the viewer through the 12 components.
I'd also recommend purchasing ASCA's "Making Data Work." Make sure you have the THIRD EDITION. The thing that trips up folks applying for RAMP is the data.  Unless you know the ins and outs of process, perception, and outcome data this workbook should be on your shelf during this process.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Is this the year to gather RAMP data?

Remember, RAMP is about the school counseling program and not individual school counselors.  However for most schools there is only one full-time elementary counselor.  It is time consuming to gather all the data needed for the 12 components of RAMP.  If you do have a part-time counselor assigned to your building, that person needs to be on board along with your administration.  Applying for RAMP takes lots of time outside the school day.  It is important to ask yourself do I have the time to commit to this right now?  It will take at least 14 months to RAMP.  You need to be prepared to start the work in August 2013 and continue until you submit your application October 2014.  What other demands do you have right now on your time outside of work?  Is it realistic for you to spend many extra hours honing the school counseling program, gathering the data, and writing it up?  If yes check back for more posts, if no continue working to implement the third edition of the Model.  The more components in place, the easier it will be to take on the challenge of RAMP when the time is right for you,

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Where to begin the RAMP process?


If you don't already own a copy of the third edition of The ASCA National Model purchase it from ASCA and read the entire book.  Once you are familiar with the changes (or if you are relatively new to the profession)  start examining your program your program based on the four components: foundation, management, delivery and accountability. Make sure your administrator has a working understanding of the model.  I recommend giving the principal the Executive Summary of the model, a nice 4 page summary in color and with graphics.  You absolutely must have administrative support to RAMP.  If you are in a large district the Director of Counseling may have briefed principals on the model.  If you do have a Director in your district that person may be a resource.  The RAMP application has to be signed off by your School Board so start at the beginning making sure your administrator knows this is part of the process.  This is the time to negotiate with your administrator to get rid of non-counseling duties so you can spend the recommended amounts of time delivering counseling services. Most principals like external reviews and recognitions of programs in their schools.  Achieving RAMP will give your principal bragging rights, use this to your advantage to gather support for this adventure.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Are your ready to try to RAMP?

Three years ago I spent a lot of my summer vacation working on my first RAMP application.  But for 3 years before that I had been working hard to fully implement The ASCA National Model in my school.  I talk to counselors frequently who still don't understand the need to have the model fully implemented, then spend a year collecting data, before attempting RAMP.
Fast forward three years and we have had to work extra hard updating our school counseling program and learning the third edition of the Model.  My part-time counselor and I collected our data during the 2012-13 school year and actually got the first 7 components written before school was out.  The rest of the summer I will be writing the remaining components.
It is our intention to apply to Re-RAMP in October 2013.  As an elementary counselor RAMP is a big job for a single full-time counselor.  It takes a huge motivation to apply for RAMP.  I knew our school counseling program was strong and thought RAMP would be a great professional development experience.  It was, I learned a lot and our school program got better.  Take the School Counseling Program Assessment in the Model handbook to see if your program is RAMP ready.
I am going to write a series of RAMP posts to hopefully guide other elementary counselors who are thinking about applying for RAMP.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Top Five Favorite Tech Tools


 Technology is a counselor's friend. My favorites go up and down but for the past school year here are the top 5 in order of how frequently I used each:
1) Dropbox - I save all my files and pictures in drop box.  I can access them from any computer with this free file hosting service.
2) Twitter - I use this online social networking service almost exclusively to keep up with trends in education, counseling, and related mental health fields.
3) Pinterest - I use this virtual pinboard to save ideas for groups, lessons, individual counseling, children's literature and of course recipes and wellness tips.
4) Google Forms - I use this to create surveys (parents and teachers) and pre-post tests for students.  In my opinion it is so much easier to use than Survey Monkey.
5) Live Binders - I save research articles, handout for parents, and other digital information in my virtual Binders.