President's Message

By Kelly Curtis, WSCA President

“Do you speak “data?”  Accountability and proof of effectiveness are expectations in education, and Wisconsin school counselors have risen to this challenge.  More and more are fluent, using evidence-based practices and data to guide programming.  We do needs assessments, collect baseline data, gauge progress and make graphs to show administration the effectiveness of our programming. We may even be showing the impact of our programs by completing a Wisconsin School Counseling Program Accountability Report (WSCPAR, formerly SPARC-W.)  And this data makes us relevant in the eyes of stakeholders that may not otherwise understand our role or realize how important it is.

Your WSCA Board of Directors speaks data as well.  We have created a strategic plan with smart goals that focus strongly on helping school counselors to harness the power of data in their school counseling programs.  Our elected board and committee chairs are all working toward these goals for the good of the association, and we report our progress at the end of each year.  This accountability directs our work and makes us efficient and effective. 

A WSCPAR is an excellent way to both learn about using data and showcase the evidence of effectiveness. WSCA will sponsor several opportunities this year to learn how to complete a WSCPAR, so please watch for these trainings.  If you speak data, congratulations and please help a colleague who is learning.  If you don’t speak data yet, try it, you might LIKE it!! 
Topic of the Month:  Data
School Counseling Programs and Accountability: Measuring School Counselor Effectiveness 
Written by Dr. Carrie King, WSCA Post-Secondary Vice President

A goal of using data to assess the effectiveness of a comprehensive school counseling program is to show change and improvement in the academic, career and personal/social areas of students’ lives.  Data is used to specifically explain how students are better because of the school counseling program and how the program is essential to student achievement.  Data is collected at various points to measure students’ progress over time.  Many forms of assessment are used, ranging from soft-data feedback forms to objective, measureable data (attendance and graduation rates, discipline and mediation referrals, etc) to survey results. All results are student-focused and can include, but is not limited to, perception data (pre-test and post-test results), process data (students served, lessons taught, etc.) and impact data (changes in attendance, test scores, behavior incidences, etc).

Within this practice of accountability, the performance of the school counselor is also to be evaluated on basic standards of practice expected of school counselors. The ASCA Model’s School Counselor Competencies clearly articulate the knowledge, abilities, skills and attitudes necessary to plan, organize, implement and evaluate a comprehensive, developmental, results-based school counseling program. Ongoing evaluation of school counselors’ work provides additional data showing the impact of the school counseling programs activities and interventions on student outcomes.

The delivery of individual and responsive services is one of many areas that is in the purview of the school counselor. Continually and uniformly evaluating school counselors’ effectiveness in providing one-on-one counseling can provide data on how students are impacted by the school counseling program. The forms and procedures used to evaluate individual counseling sessions effectiveness will be determined by the school counseling programs content and structure.  These forms may include pre- and post-test measures for individual sessions or multiple sessions provided over time.  Below are two examples, created by a school district in Columbus, OH, of individual session evaluations for the youngest elementary students and middle/high school students. Collected over time, these evaluation forms can also track important information about the number of students served and time spent on providing responsive services.

Pickerington Local School District Professional School Counselor’s Individual Counseling Post-Evaluation (, p.57-58).

While the results reported are always student-based and student-focused, ongoing evaluation of specific aspects of school counselors’ work is key to identifying profession development needs. WSCA and ASCA emphasize the need for and importance of professional development to stay competence and work effectively in all school counseling competency areas. To provide an effective school program, the school counselors delivering the program must also be effective in their work as well. Using evaluation forms similar to those above, school counselors can reflect on and assess their own level of effectiveness counseling specific groups of students, providing counseling for different issues or in using evidenced based counseling interventions.

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The Joys of Data
Written By:  Jennifer Betters-Bubon: WSCA Post-Secondary Vice President Elect
PBIS, RTI, evidence based interventions, progress monitoring—all of these terms are defining the current state of education as well as the role of the school counselor.  While not always equated with the word ‘joy’, intentionally using data to inform your programming and to document how students are change as a result of your programs is essential.  Within already over-whelmed schedules, it can be difficult to know how best to dive into the practice of data.  Two helpful bits of advice that helped me during my tenure as an elementary school counselor included: working with what you know and starting small.
The first step in using data effectively is getting a handle on how data is used within the context of your individual school or district.  At the broadest levels, all schools are focused on academic achievement data, including how best to close the achievement gap among students in our schools.  As counselors, it can be difficult to see how we can have a direct impact on this data as we are not engaged in direct teaching of math or reading. Because there is a direct connection between social/emotional skills and academic learning, school counselors should examine data focused on skills and attitudes that may indirectly impact academic achievement.  For example, many schools are currently engaged in PBIS work, which means there should be ample data on ODRs (Office Discipline Referrals).  Other districts are focusing their efforts on truancy or attendance rates.   Still others are working to create positive school climates whereby all students and families feel welcome and safe.  The first step then for school counselors is to narrow our focus with a needs assessment.  What are the overarching needs of the school or district where you work according to teachers and staff, students, and parents? Where are the discrepancies in access and success? Where can you have an impact? 
The second step, then, is to decide on how to design aspects of your school counseling program to impact the identified needs. While we often enter the field of school counseling ready to make big changes, it is important to remember that starting small can be most effective.  Rather than focusing on changing the truancy rates all of all students in grades 9-12, create a targeted intervention focusing on those in 9th grade.  Examine the data from the previous school year to determine who faltered in 8th grade.  Set up a tier 2 small group to support the 8-10 students who struggled the previous year.  Create a simple pre and post test measuring student attitudes, skills and knowledge. Work with students while collecting data.  If student behavior is most concerning you, your student services team or your principal, examine the existing ODR data.  Look for a specific area that you can impact.  Whether that is responsible behavior, anger management, or respect, stay focused and work within a grade level or with a specific group of students.  Only through the creation of a targeted intervention can you show your impact.  And don’t forget to document the results and share them! 
If data brings little joy to your world, here are a few resources that might be of help:
Best of luck as you continue to create positive change in the students of our schools!

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WSCPAR – More than Just an Award
Paula Haugle: WSCA Professional Development and Education Chair

As most of you know, the SPARC-W has undergone some changes and revisions, and is now the WSCPAR – the Wisconsin School Counseling Program Accountability Report.  I currently serve on the WSCPAR subcommittee and have learned a great deal about this document and the process over the past year.  I went through the SPARC-W process last year, created the document, applied for the Program of Promise Award, and the Elmwood School District became the first K-12 award recipient.  But, the true reward for me was gaining a better understanding of data and how to best serve my students through the process.  I’m sure we’ve all read about how data is important, and how school counselors need to use data to drive decision making.  We’ve all done pre and post tests and, if you’re like me, filed the results away and did little with them (or didn’t know what to do with the results).
What I’ve learned in my seven years as a school counselor, is that the only way to truly understand data and the impact on students, is to “get dirty” with data.  That is, to really dig in, play with the numbers, find out how to ask the right questions and avoid irrelevant information.  I found the WSCPAR process to really help me work through that.  It was a good stepping stone into truly making my practice more data driven – with a purpose.  The rubric contains everything you need to know to get started.  It offers tips and definitions.  It provides an outline that follows the WI and ASCA Comprehensive School Counseling Models.  I started by looking at what data was available to me, started putting it together, looking at what it told me, and forging a plan for improvement.
If you’re serious about data, the WSCPAR is a great first step.  Even if you don’t apply for the award, you’ll gain a great understanding of data and how to use it in practice.  As a bonus, you’ll have a great document to help promote your program to stakeholders and even to promote your school!
Not sure where to start?  Do you have a start and want some work time with feedback?  Consider attending the Summer Leadership Academy or Fall Summit this year.  You’ll have great resources at your fingertips to learn about the WSCPAR and more!
I hope you’ll consider going through the WSCPAR process, and utilizing the resources WSCA is providing regarding data driven counseling.  Best of luck to you!

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Written By:  Lisa Koenecke: WSCA Past-President

Last summer the WSCA board worked with Eric Sparks, ASCA’s Assistant Director to develop a strategic plan.  The strategic plan is our guiding force for our future direction.  We also look at our ENDS policies which actually includes data:
School counselors are skilled at using data and evidence‐based practices to guide program decisions.
One of the best ways to prove our worth to our stakeholders is by using data.  Think of these ways to help you:
  1. Write a WSCPAR (formerly known as SPARC-W).   Deadline for submission is December 19,2014.  As a past winner, this will be a wonderful boost for your building.  For more information, go to and please submit one!  It’s FREE!
  2. ASCA has a DATA specialist training available for a minimal cost.  Information is available at
  3. With Academic and Career Plans passing legislation in our state, use the ASCA model (3rd edition) to see how you can be a leader using data in taking students down their individual career path.  Also watch for more information to come from DPI on ACPs.
  4. Stay in touch with WSCA through our Facebook, and Twitter accounts to see what other professional development is coming down the pike.
Budget cuts and declining enrollment are realities in some districts.  Data is one way to potentially prove your worth.  ASCA has just revised our national standards.  They are now called ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for student success.  We want to provide K-12 college and career readiness skills for every student.  Remember, school counselors (not guidance counselors/ name was officially changed in 1990) are uniquely trained in career development, small group work and teaching in the classrooms.  Let’s get ahead of the data curve and show how students are served academically, in career-ready skills, and through social/emotional development, because THAT is where school counselors excel!

DPI Corner
Gregg Curtis WSCA DPI Consultant

Educator Effectiveness: What About School Counselors?

There has been much confusion and anxiety about the new educator effectiveness system and how school counselors fit...or don’t fit…into the new system. Hopefully this article will provide a bit of clarity and suggest a direction as counselors strive to demonstrate their effectiveness in the educational process.

Wisconsin’s Education Effectiveness System (WI EE System) mandated by state law applies only to principals and teachers. Since the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) recognizes that teacher roles may look different in various local contexts, it developed an operational definition for who is covered by the “teacher” requirement.  For the purposes of the WI EE System, "Teacher" is defined as any employee engaged in the exercise of any educational function for compensation in the public schools, including charter schools established under s. 118.40, whose primary responsibilities include all {emphasis added}of the following; instructional planning and preparation; managing a classroom environment; and pupil instruction. According to this very specific definition, a professional school counselor is not a teacher; so school counselors are not mandated to be included in the new WI EE System. (For a decision-making flowchart to identify teacher and principal roles see )

DPI is currently working in a number of ways to determine if/how pupil services professionals (including school counselors) might be included in the WI EE System at some time in the future. As school districts pilot the WI EE System with teachers and principals, DPI is collecting feedback from pilot participants regarding what other educator roles do not currently fall within this definition. DPI will synthesize this feedback for common trends and roles, convene a workgroup representing those roles, and begin discussions regarding development of modifications to the existing EE System to meet the unique needs of these educators.
Additionally, DPI is currently in discussion with professional organizations and other key stakeholders representing pupil services roles (e.g., school counselors, OT/PT, nurses, etc) to determine whether to develop an evaluation system that parallels the teacher and principal WI EE System but is appropriate for their unique roles and aligns to their own professional standards. Because these roles are not mandated in Act 166, there is flexibility with development of the evaluation measures, meaning both the “Educator Practice” and the “Student Outcomes” portions of the evaluation are not required to look the same as teachers and principals. Specifically, it may or may not include SLOs and, if it does, these SLOs will likely look very different than those currently developed by teachers and principals.
Should local districts decide to include school counselors in their educator effectiveness process without any state requirement or state development, DPI encourages local educational leaders and school counselors to engage in collaborative conversations resulting in the development of unique SLOs that are data-based SMART goals that demonstrate growth. This collaboration will yield less anxiety and a more valid, reliable measure of how counselors are effective in their roles. Unlike educators mandated in Act 166, it may be appropriate for these roles to focus their goals in behavioral areas (i.e. measured by decreased office discipline referrals,  improved attendance, decreased bullying reports) OR academic-focused (i.e., measured by increased organization, increased homework completion, decreased participation in RtI interventions).
Also unlike teachers and principals, the “Educator Practice” portion of the evaluation may or may not utilize the Danielson Framework for Teaching. Many counselors have designed their programs based on the ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs. Some examples of evaluations based on the ASCA Model can be found at:
Another fine evaluation tool is the Wisconsin School Counseling Program Accountability Report (WSCPAR).  WSCPAR is a continuous improvement document that gives a school counseling program an opportunity to demonstrate effective communication and a commitment to getting results. Having counselors complete a WSCPAR for their building allows them to use local data to drive interventions and programming that supports student success in all developmental areas; academic, career, and personal/social. More information on the WSCPAR can be found at:
Today’s professional school counselor welcomes the challenge of demonstrating their effectiveness. The current position of not being mandated to participate in the WI EE System affords the profession a small bit of power. Unlike decades past, when a typical evaluation consisted of the supervisor crossing out “teacher” at the top of the standard evaluation form and writing “counselor,” opportunity is knocking at counselors’ doors to be instrumental in the design of an evaluation that measures exactly how effective we are at what we do. Whether that will come with the eventual inclusion of school counselors in the statewide WI EE System or will remain grounded in the collaborative development of your own evaluation at your school remains to be seen.

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Board Member Spotlight

Paula Haugle: WSCA Professional Development and Education Chair
I’ll never forget the magic of the first WSCA Conference I attended as a graduate student from Winona State University in 2007.  The professionalism, integrity, and cutting edge professional development that WSCA has come to represent has kept me a very proud member.   I decided to run for the WSCA Board after attending Fall Summit in Chippewa Falls.  Networking with current board members was very rewarding for me.  I wasn’t elected the year I ran, but in June of 2013, I was appointed Professional Development and Education Chair by Lisa Koenecke, the president at the time.  My position is responsible for the Summer Academy and Fall Summit trainings, and I have also taken an active role as a member of the WSCPAR subcommittee.  My time on the board has been rejuvenating as a professional.  I enjoy working with like-minded individuals to serve the professional school counselors of our state and staying on top of current issues facing our profession.  I have been the 4K-12 School Counselor for the School District of Elmwood since the fall of 2007.  Being the only counselor in the district, professional development has always been central to me as a professional.  I’m happy to be serving the WSCA Board as the Professional Development and Education Chair for two more years.
Lisa Koenecke: WSCA Past-President
As a former camp counselor and director for twenty years, school counseling provided me with an opportunity to work with students more closely.  Thank you to Joni Downs and Gregg Curtis at UW-Whitewater for an excellent start in this amazing career.  My journey on the WSCA board has been wonderful.  I started as the grad student representative, then secretary, onto the middle school VP-Elect, and now I am the current past president…WOW!  The friendships, the professional development and the ability to network with other school counseling leaders across the country are what I LOVE about my involvement with WSCA.  Wisconsin is seen as a leader in the nation when it comes to school counseling.  Thank you for all of your support and I look forward to asking more of you to become involved with WSCA!

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Upcoming Events & Announcements


Looking to set new professional goals for yourself this year?  Working on your PDP for your license?  Why not build in some professional development goals that can be easily fulfilled by attending the WSCA Conference in February?  Each year we offer more than 80 different sectionals, with a whole spectrum of topics for you to choose from! And let’s not forget the opportunity for some intense professional development with our pre-conference offerings.  This year we’ll have a full day pre-conference related to the upcoming state mandated Academic and Career Plans (ACP’s).  Also, with the focus on Educator Effectiveness, we will be providing a full-day pre-conference session on how to develop an Accountability Report for your school counseling program to showcase your effectiveness.

If you are concerned that your building principal will not provide you with the time to attend the conference, consider engaging in a conversation with him or her about the letter that Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, recently sent to school administrators across the country.  Here is a link to the full letter:

In this letter, he accurately identifies school counselors as critical to the success of our students, and he calls for administrators to make a point of providing time for meaningful professional development for school counselors.  The WSCA Conference is unquestionably THE place for professional development targeted solely on the school counseling profession.

This year is also a special year for WSCA, as the association is celebrating its 50th year of existence!  Come celebrate with all your school counseling friends as we will have some special celebration opportunities at the WSCA Conference held February 17-19, 2015 at the Monona Terrace, Madison, WI!

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Continue the learning at Fall Summit, generously sponsored and hosted at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.  The day of learning and work time will be Thursday, October 23, 2014.  NEW TOPICS: Option one will be focused on Mental Health.  In the morning, Dr. Michael I. Axelrod will be presenting “Helping Children Overcome Anxiety: An Introduction to Therapeutic Techniques and Evidence-based Strategies.”  In the afternoon we will be discussing satellite mental health clinics co-located in schools – an amazing partnership that makes mental health services more accessible to students.  Option 2 will be a WSCPAR work and feedback session.
Where:  North Central Technical College, Wausau, WI                                                                                               
1000 W. Campus Dr., Wausau, WI 54401                                                                                                                  
When: Thursday, October 23, 2014 from 9:00a.m.-4:00p.m. (includes lunch)

For more information, check or contact Paula Haugle at

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August 2014

President's Message
By Kelly Curtis

Upcoming Events & Announcements