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How to Implement Program Evaluation in School Counseling

Instructor: Joanna Harris

Joanna has taught high school social studies both online and in a traditional classroom since 2009, and has a doctorate in Educational Leadership

If you're looking for information on how to develop and implement a plan for evaluating counseling activities and school counseling programs, then this lesson is for you!

Purpose of Program Evaluations

School counseling programs and activities are used to address a multitude of students needs, be they social, academic, and/or behavioral. School counselors are charged with developing and implementing these programs through a process called program evaluation. Program evaluations involve the use of a systematic scientific method to collect and analyze data regarding these school counseling programs and activities. This method measures and determines the programs' effectiveness and efficiency in a qualitative and a quantitative manner.

The purpose of program evaluations is for school counselors to measure the value and worth of a school counseling program and its activities, and for the personnel who operate the program to decide whether or not the program is performing and worth continuing. After these evaluations take place, the data gathered from them are also used to determine if a program needs to be changed to better serve students.

Program evaluation forms measure and quantify the different types of information school counselors want to assess. For example, school counselors can use expert assessments in which an outside expert conducts an evaluation. This would give the school more information than an evaluation done internally by its counselors. Since an internal evaluation would gather internal testimonials from people like the counselors themselves, administrators and teachers, the collected data would be limited to personal experiences within the program, and therefore may be biased.

A consumer satisfaction program evaluation would help a school counselor assess whether or not the program is well-liked by students, teachers, administrators, and staff -- and more importantly, why or why not. This type of program evaluation would give a school counselor valuable information as to what they are doing right with certain programs, and how similar efforts could be applied to other programs to improve their services.

Performing Program Evaluations

The program evaluation, regardless of type, uses a scientific method so that the data collected and analyzed is valid and accountable. If a program evaluation is valid, then it is valuable because it can be repeated by another researcher in another area, and produce nuanced results to add to the scholarship of the program. Likewise, accountability is at the heart of any program evaluation because it determines if the program is helping the students enrolled, and if the program is achieving its goals.

To perform any program evaluation, a school counselor must follow a set of simple steps to provide data for analysis:

  1. Identify the program they want to evaluate, and determine the information they would like to know and understand about it.
  2. Identify the specific services that the program seeks to provide to students.
  3. Collect and analyze data about the program. This data can be qualitative and come from interviews with participants or quantitative and come from charts and statistics about those enrolled in the program.
  4. Use the data collected and analyzed to determine whether or not the program was effective and if it should continue with or without modifications. If the program was ineffective, this data can also be used to justify discontinuing or changing the program.

Implementing Program Evaluations

Once a program evaluation has been completed by a school counselor, the time comes for implementing the evaluation and its findings. An evaluation will let a school counselor know if the program should be continued, changed or discontinued. There are certain ways in which school counselors can implement the information gleaned from program evaluations.

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