A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n


PROGRAM NAME: Comprehensive Career Guidance and Counseling

LOCATION: Zapata High School, Texas

POPULATION: All students (760), grades 9-12


Velma Moran Garza
Career Technology Counselor
Zapata High School
Box 3750, 17th & Carla Street
Zapata, Texas 78076
(210) 765-6542
(210) 765-9204 fax

Sylvia Clark
Career Specialist
Texas Education Agency
1701 North Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701-1494
(512) 463-9498
(512) 463-4584 fax


DESCRIPTION: The guidance team provides a well-rounded, comprehensive, developmental career guidance and counseling program through the following services: individual inventory, occupational information, placement, follow-up and evaluation, and research. The program is based on the National Career Development Guidelines. While Zapata is a rural border town in an economically disadvantaged area, its school system boasts a .9% dropout rate for grades 7-12, and a 93.6% attendance rate. The presence of a very supportive administration and caring teachers and staff make school a welcome place for Zapata youth.

High school students have access to a wide range of career development assessment activities, a good career information system, peer tutoring and teacher tutoring programs, and a service learning program. A unique program helps migrant students complete their studies during the shortened time period when they can be in school each year. Parents are active participants in school activities. A wide array of inter-community collaborations exists that helps provide school supplies, child care, clothing, and other services to students.

The high school career guidance and counseling program is coordinated by the guidance staff, but each teacher takes responsibility for 13 to 17 students in the school's unique advocacy program called "WE." Teachers meet with their advocacy groups for 1 1/2 hours each week to work on the career development curriculum and other age-appropriate activities to meet the career, educational planning, and social needs of every student. The advocacy period will cover all of the National Career Development Guidelines during the student high school years. Copies of the students' competency profiles are added to the students' career portfolios. Counselors and administrators support the teachers in this program by providing the curriculum, videos, staff development, and print materials. In addition to the career development curriculum, the advocacy groups are structured to help students increase self-esteem and understanding of themselves. As part of this program, teachers make a yearly home visit to provide positive feedback to parents on their children.

The Career Guidance and Counseling Department publishes a handbook and guide to inform all stakeholders of the different programs and graduation plan options available. The counselors meet with parents to discuss the best educational plan for their children. Counseling and career guidance are provided also to parents and other family members upon request. Parents help in the counseling office. All counselors are responsible for some training during inservice and teacher meetings.

One special academic program is the OMEGA independent study program. It is maintained in the Career Development Center. It serves all populations: gifted and talented, migrant, placed at- risk, drop-out, transfer and low credit achiever. One of the counselors is very involved with this program by motivating students to complete the high school minimum requirements. The senior class of 1996 graduated students including 2 interstate migrants, 3 previous drop-outs, and 5 teen parents.

Restructuring is still occurring at Zapata High School. A customized graduation plan for all students focuses on the level of performance in math, reading and writing scores and teacher recommendations. Students have been consulted on career pathways and on their ACT Career Profile scores to determine the best 4-year plan for them. All students will complete a career portfolio. Courses have been added to have 3-year programs for career paths. Teachers have aligned their programs vertically as well as horizontally district-wide. Competencies profiles were required for all programs. Zapata High School became a Texas Mentor Campus and an Effective Border Pilot Program. It also received the Planning for Life Award for its counseling program.

PROGRAM EVALUATION: Effectiveness of the Career and Technology Guidance and Counseling Program is evaluated through the services provided to special populations. The administrative staff, through self-assessment, completes a checklist in order to evaluate the prior year's program and to decide what needs to be accomplished during the new school year. Students fill out surveys on different strategies used by the administration (e.g., an advocacy program). The counseling department participated in the Planning for Life Award as a form of evaluating the success of the program. Every year a senior survey is completed. Informally--through students, parents, and relatives--the counseling staff keeps up-to-date on what the graduates are doing.

PROGRAM EFFECTIVENESS: Evaluation results follow:

- lower drop out rate (.9%):
- personalized graduation plans;
- increased attendance rate (93.6%)
- all students being served and reached;
- students want the advocacy program on a weekly basis;
- graduates return to help out;
-teachers teach career awareness as related to their content mastery and offer service learning


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