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  • The School Counselor and Common Core State Standards

    The April, 2014 edition of The Bridge from the Department of Education provided a resource to guide educators through the labyrinth of companies’ and organizations’ daily emails and mailed articles and materials about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). As one who receives these emails and pieces of mail, I’m not sure finding an easy way through this labyrinth is possible. So, how does one find time to read all of the information and how does one choose which article to guide the hard work of implementing the CCSS? As we know, it isn’t just implementing the standards; it’s also ensuring that our students are ready for colleges and careers.

    With the importance of college and career readiness receiving a top ranking in the CCSS, I found a helpful and an enlightening action brief by the Achieve organization along with other contributors. The action brief is entitled, Implementing the Common Core State Standards: The Role of the School Counselor. This action brief presents two focal points. One point highlights the significant role of the school counselor with implementing the CCSS. School counselors are an incredible, and sometimes untapped, resource in assisting administrators and teachers with this process. The second focal point outlines an approach for the counselor to take in creating a school culture that supports students in their preparation for colleges and careers.

    In discussing the implementation of the CCSS and ensuring that our students are college-and career-ready, I turned to two important Ocean City School District staff members. One is the Director of Pupil Services, Erik Ortolf, and the other is one of our school counselors, Shannon Pruitt. Ms. Pruitt works with students in developing their goals, interests, and aptitude and she views the implementation of CCSS as a natural extension of this critical work. This counselor stated that “I am a firm believer that the American School Counselor Association’s National Model and the CCSS blend beautifully. I believe this blending makes for a seamless transition from the work that the teachers are doing in the classroom to the work that the guidance counselors do on a daily basis. I am thrilled to be in a position where my work will be able to support the students and teachers as they transition into the CCSS.”

    Our school counselors and the Director know that for students to be college-ready requires adaptability, persistence, and a commitment to learning, along with mastery of key knowledge and skills. The counselors also know how to maneuver an indecisive adolescent, who has a vague set of ideas about career options, through the process of exploring and examining career information, which eventually moves a student towards selecting a career path. The school counselor is invaluable in ensuring that students achieve a more focused vocational identity with an understanding of what is needed to achieve that identity.

    Furthermore, both types of readiness go hand-in-hand. As stated by the Director, “the school counselor can help the students see the connection between academic achievement and their personal career goals. The school counselor can be a great resource in assisting students to develop plans that lead to appropriate educational and career opportunities. The college and career readiness standards have provided a framework from which counselors can better assist students as they navigate through the educational system into the world of work.”

    Today, the choices of colleges and careers are so much more complex and interrelated for students; it also becomes a labyrinth for them. A school counselor can steer them through it. By involving the school counselor with the implementation of the CCSS, we can ensure students find their way to success.

    For more information about the school counselor and Common Core State Standards, please visit www.achieve.org, www.wholechildeducation.org, www.naesp.org, www.careerkey.org, or www.counseling.org.