AVID, Advisory, & ASCA, oh my!

Recently I was approached to take the lead on a few of school initiatives, none of which are small.  I have decided to take on advisory first.  Putting on my research hat I dived into the journal article and published documents surrounding the topic.  To my surprise I found a few really great reads that have helped me get started.  Advisory Programs in High School Restructuring is designed to help help school leaders assess they’re current advisory model, or in cases like mine, ask the essential questions to get the conversation started.  The commentary that supports the essential questions being posed provide insight that is hard to garner when I myself do not have the same role as a teacher.

I think I would be remiss if this article suggests that advisory is necessary because counselor case loads are beyond a reasonable capacity.  I mention this because there has been resistance to advisory because we are asking teachers to do the counselors job.  I understand the sentiment, but with ASCA making a recommendation of 250 students and out caseload reaching 500, something has got to give. We have reached capacity and the demands are becoming even greater.

The other resource I found to be of great value  was a PowerPoint put out by the West Virginia Department of Education titled Types of Advisory/Advisory Purpose.  This PowerPoint covers the different types of advisory models a school can implement and I believe it will help staff in the decision making process.

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Does My Letter of Recommendation Really Matter?

Writing a letter of recommendation can be a daunting task. After pouring hours into each student’s letter I find myself reflecting on the necessity. So do colleges and universities really care? The short answer YES!

The National Association for College Admission Counseling in their State of College Admissions Report (2014) polled colleges and universities on this topic and other admission factors. The results indicate 86% of participants’ rated the letter of recommendation of moderate importance to the admission decision. In comparison grades in college preparatory courses, strength in curriculum, admission test scores and grades in all courses were rated as top factors in the admission decision. College Board weighs in on the importance in their article on How to Write Effective College Recommendations sharing that in an interview with the of Dean of Admissions, Terry Cowdrey, of St. Lawrence University in New York the letter can be a factor for merit candidates at any college, borderline admissible students at any college, and competitive candidates at the most selective schools.

So the time spent on the letter has it’s value, but the fact that we may not be English majors is of less importance. The letters are really intended to differentiate students from their classmates or to provide a deeper understanding of a student’s circumstances. We can rest easy; they are not evaluating our written expression skills, they just want to get to know our students better.

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Welcome to my professional school counseling website!  This site contains information about me, my professional career, the school counseling profession in general, and  resources for students, parents and school faculty.

– Mrs. Raff

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