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No Child Left Behind: A Desktop Reference
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Elementary and Secondary School Counseling (V-D-2)


The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling programs provide grants to help school districts establish or expand counseling programs in elementary schools and, if the appropriation for the program exceeds $40 million in any fiscal year, the program may be expanded to secondary schools. School counseling services can contribute to the personal growth, educational development, and emotional well-being of students. Research suggests that high-quality counseling services can have long-term effects on a child's well being and can prevent a student from turning to violence and drug or alcohol abuse. High-quality school counseling services also can improve a student's academic achievement. Studies on the effects of school counseling have shown positive effects on students' grades, reducing classroom disruptions, and enhancing teachers' abilities to manage classroom behavior effectively. High-quality school counseling services also can help address students' mental health needs.

WHAT'S NEW--The No Child Left Behind Act

Focuses on What Works

  • Focuses on innovative and promising approaches. Districts are required to provide services that use innovative approaches. Applicants who propose the most promising and innovative approaches and show the greatest potential for replication and dissemination will receive special consideration for awards.

Reduces Bureaucracy and Increases Flexibility

  • Includes secondary schools. Previously, the program only supported services for elementary schools. Now, secondary schools can be included if funding for the program exceeds $40 million annually.
  • Expands the list of professionals who may provide counseling services. In addition to school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists, the law now allows other qualified psychologists and child and adolescent psychiatrists to receive payment from program funds.
  • Expands the settings for services. Districts are now required to provide counseling in settings that meet the range of student needs, not just in schools.

How It Works

  • This discretionary grant program authorizes the U.S. Department of Education to award grants directly to districts to establish or expand student counseling programs. Special consideration for awards must be given to applicants who demonstrate the greatest need for new or additional counseling services, propose the most promising and innovative approaches, and show the greatest potential for replication and dissemination. In addition, grants must be equitably distributed among geographic regions and among urban, suburban, and rural districts.

Key Requirements

This program will support the hiring and training of qualified school counselors, school psychologists, child and adolescent psychiatrists, and school social workers for schools. The program also provides greater student access to beneficial counseling services and helps identify effective strategies for providing student counseling services that show potential for replication and dissemination.

Each grantee must implement a program that is comprehensive in addressing the counseling and educational needs of all students. Programs must increase the range, availability, quantity, and quality of counseling services in schools. They should expand counseling services through qualified personnel and use innovative approaches to increase children's understanding of peer and family relationships, work and self, decision-making, or academic and career planning. Programs may improve peer interaction and provide counseling services in settings that meet the range of student needs. Programs also may include in-service training for teachers, instructional staff, and appropriate school personnel, including training in appropriate identification and early intervention techniques. Programs must involve parents of participating students in the design, implementation, and evaluation of counseling programs and also involve community groups, social service agencies, or other public or private entities in collaborative efforts to enhance the program and promote school-linked integration of services.

How It Achieves Quality

Districts must use their grants to establish or expand counseling programs that are innovative, comprehensive, use a developmental, preventive approach, and increase the quality and quantity of counseling services in their schools. Given the many conflicting demands on school staff time, the requirement that counseling professionals paid with program funds must spend the majority of their time counseling students or in other directly related activities will maximize the time that staff spend directly serving students. Moreover, the law requires grantee districts to work toward specified ratios of counseling staff to students, using the recommendations of the American School Health Association, to ensure that sufficient counseling services are available to meet student needs. Districts also must provide in-service training, hire staff that meet specific qualifications, and evaluate the effectiveness of their services.

How Performance Is Measured

Districts must work toward staff-to-student ratios of one school counselor to 250 students, one school social worker to 800 students, and one school psychologist to 1,000 students. The U.S. Department of Education is required to prepare a report that evaluates grantees' counseling programs and provides information from grantee districts on the ratios of counseling staff to students.

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Last Modified: 09/14/2007