President's Message

By Lisa Koenecke, WSCA President

Your WSCA Board of Directors has worked hard to include Ethics as part of our Strategic Plan.  Our ENDS policies are the driving force behind how we as school counselors are highly qualified practitioners. 


School counselors are highly qualified practitioners.

  1. School counselors are experts in the implementation of the Wisconsin Comprehensive School Counseling Model and the American School Counselor Association National Model.
    a. School counselors are thorough in applying the Ethical Standards for School Counselors
          i  School counselors are culturally competent.
         ii. School counselors are responsible with technology.
    b. School counselors are skilled at using data and evidence‐based practices to guide program decisions.

         2. School counselors are visionary leaders who impact the state and national agendas surrounding education and student success.

Kelly Curtis, our WSCA President-Elect has outlined some excellent ethical information for you to consider.  Please take the time to ask these important questions.  We want to be ethical in academic counseling, personal/social counseling and career counseling.  We will have some sectionals at the conference regarding ethics.  Hope to see you there!

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Topic of the Month:   Ethics

Ethics Every Day
By Kelly Curtis: President-Elect 

We can’t be expected to make the right decision every time we make one – it isn’t human nature to be perfect.  But we can expect to be informed about our ethical responsibilities.  ASCA adopted Ethical Standards for School Counselors in 1984, and has made ongoing updates to the document.  Much of the document outlines the structure of the school counseling role, so if we have established a model program, we are addressing many of our ethical responsibilities.   But other aspects address the principles that guide those tricky situations none of us want to encounter, but all of us eventually will. 

Although we cannot likely prepare for every eventuality, a periodic review of these ethical standards can help to remind ourselves about the principles that are necessary to maintain high standards of integrity, leadership and professionalism.  

Although we cannot likely prepare for every eventuality, a periodic review of these ethical standards can help to remind ourselves about the principles that are necessary to maintain high standards of integrity, leadership and professionalism.  Our roles are complex and critical to our primary obligation – our students.

Perhaps the most helpful section of the standards is the final one, which guides us with an ethical decision making model.  Solutions to Ethical Problems in Schools (STEPS) outlines the following process when faced with an ethical dilemma:

1. Define the problem emotionally and intellectually
2. Apply the ASCA Ethical Standards and the law
3. Consider the students’ chronological and developmental levels
4. Consider the setting, parental rights and minors’ rights
5. Apply the moral principles
6. Determine your potential courses of action and their consequences
7. Evaluate the selected action
8. Consult
9. Implement the course of action (Stone, 2001)

While it may not offer a simple “to do” list, it does give school counselors a system for working out ethical dilemmas.  It also gives us something to document and reference when we are asked to explain a decision we’ve made. To read the complete Ethical Standards, click here

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The Ethical School Counselor
By Caroline A. Baker, WSCA Post-Secondary VP
Raise your hand if you went into school counseling so you could collect and analyze data. Who wanted to play with numbers all day and thought school counseling would be the perfect way to do this? I imagine no one identified with these statements. Data can be a scary word, and an even scarier idea. However, in the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors (2010), the words “data-driven”, “evaluation”, or “measurable” are mentioned at least 10 different times, and an entire section (A.9) is devoted to ethical evaluation and assessment practices. We need to get comfortable with data. 
Being data-driven and evaluating our own and your students’ progress does not require intensive, complex statistical maneuvers. Simple descriptive statistics can be quite powerful. For example, you can log the numbers of students you have met with, or the number of different presenting issues in a given time period (process data). Noting the time you devote to various projects sheds light on your overall productivity and can be used to advocate for resources to better support you in your work (process data). Taking it up a notch, simply gathering pre- and post-data yields information about how successfully you met your curriculum objectives (perception data). You can devise your own simple survey with developmentally appropriate questions, or choose from the plethora of published surveys and assessments (which will cost money). Looking at school-wide results data, such as the school report card, graduation rates, discipline referrals, and post-test data, provides other measurable evidence of your effective school counseling program. Once you have your data, putting it all together can be a powerful advocacy tool for your program. The SPARC-W from WSCA and the RAMP from ASCA are two recognized ways to aggregate your data and to present it to stakeholders.
You might be saying to yourself, “I already do all of this!” Excellent! Data supports you as you work ethically in the schools. It informs your ideas, speaks for your effectiveness, and demonstrates purposeful counseling work. When we fail to lean on data, we provide random and ineffective counseling. We become stale in our practice and fail to meet the needs of our students and our schools. Consider the ways in which you collect and analyze data to inform your practice. Share ideas with your peers. Set up simple data-collection systems before the school year starts, such as in your planner or electronically. You will be amazed with the results, and the simplicity of it. Furthermore, you will be upholding the Ethical Standards for School Counselors.

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“Serious and Foreseeable Harm” Replaced “Clear and Imminent Danger” for Breaching Confidentiality in the Ethical Standards for School Counselors 
By Dr. Carrie King, Post-Secondary VP Elect

The ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors was revised in late 2010. In my work with school counselor advisory boards, school counseling interns, intern supervisors, and other groups of school counselors, I frequently recognize that not all school counselors are informed of changes that were made to the 2010 revision.  The standard that is called into question most often is regarding confidentiality.
A recent example comes from at a district-wide school counseling meeting when counselors discussed how an ethical dilemma should be resolved.  The case involved a 16-year-old student who had run away from home.  The student’s counselors knew where the student was staying. One counselor questioned whether the location should be revealed to the parents fearing that she would be unethical by breaking confidentiality.  The second counselor believed that the student was safer if the parents didn’t know where he was and didn’t feel the parents should be contacted.  Another counselor in the group suggested that the parents be informed that their child was safe and not lost on the streets, but not share the location of the student.  The general feedback to the student’s counselors was that they did not need to reveal the location of the student unless the home at which he was staying was unsafe.  These counselors were operating from an old ethical standard that required school counselors to break confidentiality in situations where there is clear and immediate danger.
Previous language in Section A.2.b. stated that the professional school counselor “keeps information confidential unless disclosure is required to prevent clear and imminent danger to the student or others or when legal requirements demand that confidential information be revealed.”   The newest code reads in Section A.2.c. that school counselors “Keep information confidential unless legal requirements demand that confidential information be revealed or a breach is required to prevent serious and foreseeable harm to the student. Serious and foreseeable harm is different for each minor in schools and is defined by students’ developmental and chronological age, the setting, parental rights and the nature of the harm. School counselors consult with appropriate professionals when in doubt as to the validity of an exception.”
This change to the Ethical Standards requires school counselors to consider a wider range of behaviors (e.g., drug/alcohol use, sexual activity, suicidal ideation, cutting, eating issues, etc.) when making decisions about what should remain confidential.  It also requires a fairly large shift in thinking, especially for counselors who have primarily worked from the long-standing standard of “clear and imminent danger”.  Further, what may be serious and foreseeable harm is going to look very different for children across the developmental range we see in schools and will require using ethical judgment and consultation more often.  Additional information and examples of this change to the Ethical Standards can be found at:,-imminent-danger

The most significant changes to the Ethical Standards regarding confidentiality are shown in the table below side by side with the former standards. 

2004 Ethical Standards for School Counselors
2010 Ethical Standards for School Counselors
A.2. Confidentiality
The professional school counselor:
a. Informs students of the purposes, goals, techniques and rules of procedure under which they may receive counseling at or before the time when the counseling relationship is entered. Disclosure notice includes the limits of confidentiality such as the possible necessity for consulting with other professionals, privileged communication, and legal or authoritative restraints. The meaning and limits of confidentiality are defined in developmentally appropriate terms to students.
b. Keeps information confidential unless disclosure is required to prevent clear and imminent danger to the student or others or when legal requirements demand that confidential information be revealed. Counselors will consult with appropriate professionals when in doubt as to the validity of an exception.
e. Protects the confidentiality of students’ records and releases personal data in accordance with prescribed laws and school policies. Student information stored and transmitted electronically is treated with the same care as traditional student records.
A.2. Confidentiality
The professional school counselor:
a. Inform individual students of the purposes, goals, techniques and rules of procedure under which they may receive counseling. Disclosure includes the limits of confidentiality in a developmentally appropriate manner. Informed consent requires competency on the part of students to understand the limits of confidentiality and therefore, can be difficult to obtain from students of a certain developmental level. Professionals are aware that even though every attempt is made to obtain informed consent it is not always possible and when needed will make counseling decisions on students’ behalf.
b. Explain the limits of confidentiality in appropriate ways such as classroom guidance lessons, the student handbook, school counseling brochures, school web site, verbal notice or other methods of student, school and community communication in additional to oral notification to individual students.
c. Recognize the complicated nature of confidentiality in schools and consider each case in context. Keep information confidential unless legal requirements demand that confidential information be revealed or a breach is required to prevent serious and foreseeable harm to the student. Serious and foreseeable harm is different for each minor in schools and is defined by students’ developmental and chronological age, the setting, parental rights and the nature of the harm. School counselors consult with appropriate professions when in doubt as to the validity of an exception.
e. Promote the autonomy and independence of students to the extent possible and use of the most appropriate and least intrusive method of breach. The developmental age and the circumstances requiring the breach are considered and as appropriate students are engaged in a discussion about the method and timing of the breach.
h. Protect the confidentiality of students’ records and release personal data in accordance with prescribed federal and state laws and school policies including the laws within the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Student information stored and transmitted electronically is treated with the same care as traditional student records. Recognize the vulnerability of confidentiality in electronic communications and only transmit sensitive information electronically in a way that is untraceable to students’ identity. Critical information such as a student who has a history of suicidal ideation must be conveyed to the receiving school in a personal contact such as a phone call.


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By Susan Leadholm, Public Relations Chair
For a professional school counselor to uphold standards, make tough decisions, be supportive, encouraging, and/or compassionate, one needs to be grounded and secure with his or her own life and beliefs.
In their book Well Being, the Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath and Jim Harter, five critical areas of wellness are identified:  career wellbeing, social wellbeing, financial wellbeing, physical wellbeing, and community wellbeing.  Most personal and professional goals could easily fall into at least one of these categories. 
Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project also shares numerous areas in which individuals should assess their own level of contentment and happiness.  Written with monthly goals, in January, readers were to become happier and healthier by concentrating on their vitality.  “Studies show that when you feel energetic, your self-esteem rises.” (Rubins, pg. 18)
So how does this relate to ethics?  Simply, if you want to be the best counselor you possibly can, you first need to take care of yourself.  In order to do our best work for others, we need to make ourselves a priority.  Here are some simple yet essential ways to support yourself, allowing you to keep going while giving to students, parents, family, and friends. 
1) Get adequate sleep.  Millions of people fail to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night which in turn impairs memory, weakens the immune system, and fosters other negative behaviors.
2) Eat healthy.  Eat food that is close to how nature presents it:  raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc.  What you drink is also as important as what you eat.  Try switching out your coffee or soda with water once each day.  Making small changes can cause big effects.
3) Take a break. Setting clear work boundaries and scheduling ‘me’ time teaches yourself and others that you are important.  Organize your day into blocks of time (30 minutes is most efficient) so that you do not waste time, but rather you create a more productive approach to your work. 
4) Exercise. There is staggering evidence that shows that people who exercise regularly think more clearly, sleep better, and have delayed onset of dementia.  Walking counts. Leave your desk and take a 10 minute break to walk the halls of your school.  You may come back with useful insight to a problem or issue that previously eluded you.
5) Breathe.  Adding breath work to your daily routine can lower stress and improve overall health.  On Dr. Andrew Weil’s website (, he describes his favorite breathing exercise, the 4- 7-8.   You breathe in through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and then exhale through your mouth to the count of eight.  According to Weil, “Knowing how to perform simple breathing techniques can help lower your blood pressure and regulate your digestive system without taking drugs.  Breathing has direct connections to emotional states and moods.”

Ethically, the best approach you can take to be an effective and efficient counselor is to take care of yourself.  Jump on the New Year’s Resolution bandwagon and begin working toward a better you.  If you already do a good job in this department, add one additional activity to make yourself better.  Start today!!!


DPI Corner

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 Support Personnel Accountability Report Card for Wisconsin (SPARC-W). SPARC-W 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 SPARC-W 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 SPARC-W can be found here.
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

Our Public Relations and Professional Recognition and Scholarships Chairs

Susan Leadholm, Public Relations Chair

As a seasoned counselor of 21 years, I love being able to showcase all the wonderful ways that school counselors make a difference across the state of Wisconsin.  It is a privilege to work on the board highlighting the many accomplishments of our membership and our profession.  I currently am a 9 - 12 school counselor at Black River Falls High School.  I am married and have three wonderful children: one sophomore and twin 8th grade students.  Please contact me at any time and let me know how I can publicize your efforts and increase our presence in an ever changing educational world.

Andrew Stendahl: Professional Recognition and Scholarships

I am the Professional Recognition and Scholarship Chair on the WSCA Board. My committee and I are responsible for selecting the Counselor of the Year awards and giving away six $1,000 scholarships.  I work at Madison West High School.  My PDP is focused on researching the most effective ways to conference (grade, topics, length, who should be involved, etc). I believe conferencing is crucial in getting to know our students better and helping them set goals for their future, and at the same time, find it very difficult to reach them all given our daily tasks, lessons, meetings, crises, and so forth. Another fun fact is that we are currently working on our first SPARC-W, hooray for accountability!

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Upcoming Events & Announcements

2014 WSCA Annual Conference – “School Counselor Pride” 
February 18-20, 2014 at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
In the proud tradition of past conferences, the Board of Director and conference committee has planned a great professional development experience. Visit for all the latest information on conference speakers, programs, registration and hotel accommodations.
Conference attendees to do list:
  • Registration still open!
  • Plan ahead for parking needs. Please use; and the parking link to explore and plan your parking possibilities. In 2014, the Monona Terrace parking structure is reserved only for WSCA attendees.  PLEASE PLAN AHEAD!
  • There are no WSCA shuttles running from the hotels in the WSCA block of rooms.  Hotels continue to operate their shuttles.
  • Submit purchase order to school financial office and follow-up before you come to make sure your registration was sent.
  • Again, visit the; site to locate information about conference registration, hotel rates, hotel reservations and parking options
  • Connect with your alum groups  on Wednesday night from 5:15-6:15 at the WSCA & Exhibitor Social Networking Reception, (Level 4 – Grand Terrace) Cash Beverage Bar & Hors d’ oeuvres | Raffle Drawing:  Must Be Present to Win.  After the drawing, you can go out and have more fun!
  • Register for your Pre-Conference now!  WSCA's Day on the Hill is FREE! more information at

Celebrate National School Counseling Week in your school.  Browse our promotional link click here regarding activities to celebrate National School Counseling week.

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Save the Date:  Wisconsin School Counselor Association 8th Annual Summer Leadership Academy : Data Driven Counseling with SPARC-W, SLOs, and RAMP 

Where: Memorial Student Center, UW-Stout Campus-Menomonie, WI                                                  
302 10th Ave, Menomonie, WI 64751                                                                                
When:  Wednesday, August 6, 2014 from 9:00a.m.-4:00p.m (includes lunch)  

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Save the Date: Wisconsin School Counselor Association 2014 Fall Summit: Academic & Career Plans and Data Driven Counseling with SPARC-W                                                                                                                         
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)

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In This Edition

President's Message
By Lisa Koenecke