BPS School Counseling Working Group: Spring 2019

Overall Objective

The BPS School Counseling Working Group is part of a comprehensive effort meant to identify the systemic changes to which the Boston Public Schools must commit ourselves in order to ensure those graduating from BPS high schools are indeed college, career, and life ready. This working group will examine how BPS school counseling (re: guidance) can be improved upon to ensure equitable access to academic, postsecondary and social-emotional support regardless of high school attended. The working group is committed to delivering recommendations regarding action steps the district can take to scale up existing effective practices and identify improvements to current programs and roles.  Specifically, the group aims to address the following questions:

  1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of BPS’ current guidance system?  

  2. Where and how are those strengths and weaknesses experienced within BPS?

  3. What are the specifics steps and timelines that must be established at the district and school-based levels, respectively, in order for the BPS students to enjoy a thoughtful, intentional, and personalized path toward graduation?

Members of the working group will review recent reports and related documents that call attention to the challenges and opportunities that relate to counselors’ work to promote students’ academic, social-emotional, and postsecondary development. The group expects to identify priority areas that warrant attention for possible short, mid, and long term recommendations. Possible priority areas might include:

  • Vision and consistent framing (i.e. What types of student support should all students in Boston have access to regardless of where they attend school?)

  • School counselor role and function (i.e. What is the appropriate role and scope of work carried out by counselors?)

  • What systems do counselors use to deliver high-quality counseling supports (i.e. Data-driven systems for monitoring progress, Partnership systems and coordination)

  • What kind of Professional Development and Readiness is needed by counselors (i.e.  Onboarding, Mentoring, Coaching, PD, Evaluation Tools)

  • Leadership and Structure (i.e. What alignment and leadership structures are needed at the school and district levels for effective practices)

Discussion Notes from the 4/30 Shah Family Foundation Event

Key Questions and Insight for the School Counseling Working Group’s Consideration

  • How are school counselors currently spending their time? How does that compare to how we think they should be spending their time?

  • How do we position school counselors to see the whole landscape of what is affecting a student’s performance in school--as well as the whole landscape of interventions that might have a positive impact?

  • What kind of access to, and training on, data tools is required for school counselors to effectively support students?

  • What kind of baseline expectations should we have for school counselor professional development and best practice sharing to ensure that we truly have a systems-level vision for the role?

  • What kinds of teams should counselors be a part of within their school communities to ensure that their work and expertise is properly elevated?

  • What kinds of wellness tools will be provided to counselors to ensure that they know how to deliver and drive certain mental health initiatives (e.g. mindfulness, stress management interventions, suicide prevention)?

  • How do school counselors contribute to the larger goal of ensuring that our high schools develop trauma-informed learning environments?

  • How can community partners work with school counselors to coordinate service delivery for students?

  • How do we educate counselors on how to connect students to career pathway programs and other post-secondary opportunities?

Additional Questions or Ideas?

Marsha Inniss-Mitchell, Director of Post-Secondary Partnerships

(617) 308-9495