The National Office of School Counseling Advocacy (NOSCA) has defined eight components of college and career readiness counseling. They recommend that six of the eight be applied in both elementary and middle schools. The six components to be shared across grades K-8 are:
- College Aspirations
- Academic Planning for College and Career Readiness
- Enrichment and Extracurricular Engagement
- College and Career Exploration and Selection Process
- College and Career Assessments
- College Affordability Planning
NOSCA’s Elementary School Counselor’s Guide is the first in the series of Guides developed to help school counselors establish a college-going culture across K-12, promote college and career readiness for all students, and close gaps between low-performing or traditionally underrepresented students.
Most agree that elementary school counselors can make a big difference in the lives of students. Unfortunately, there are very few districts in Utah that have implemented school counseling at the elementary level in their schools. But Davis School District is a shining exception. While many school districts in Utah do not yet have any elementary school counselors, Davis has been employing them for about 20 years. Why? Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Director for Davis School District, Casey Layton, explains:
“I don’t take the credit for the hard work my predecessors did. Diann Davis and Pam Jacobsen knew the importance of a vertically aligned K-12 Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Program, and they got counselors into our elementary schools. My goal has been to make sure everyone knows they matter.”
With 60 elementary schools in the district, it has been a challenge for Layton to keep the funding for elementary counselors amid $80 million in budget cuts in the last 7 years. However, he tirelessly advocates for them because of the difference that early intervention makes. Most elementary school counselors in Davis are assigned to two schools, and balance their time according to each school’s demonstrated need. Counselors teach “Essential Lessons” to young students, as well as perform other duties such as individual and group counseling and responsive services. They closely collaborate with the building administrator to assure that student needs are being met. Layton adds, “Our counselors become the ‘go-to’ person in the school. While administrators may rotate to different schools, counselors typically stay at their schools longer. They build rapport with the students, their families, and the community at large, and they help establish and maintain a positive school culture. We can’t afford not to have them.”
More about Davis School District’s elementary comprehensive guidance curriculum can be found here.