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History of TSCI
Notable efforts at transforming school counseling started in the early 1990s when the DeWitt Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund and The Education Trust collaborated to develop a national agenda to improve school counseling. The objective was to develop a plan to reshape and transform school counseling. To determine the state of school counselor preparation, The Education Trust conducted a 14-month national assessment that included numerous individual interviews and focus groups with practicing school counselors and counselor educators. At the conclusion of the assessment, The Education Trust reached the following conclusions about counselor education programs:
- We saw little relationship between how school counselors were trained at universities and the services they provided to students. Evidence did not indicate that time spent with students was guided by skills obtained during graduate school.
- Changes in graduate-level school counseling preparation constituted “adding on courses” rather than refocusing classes. Many programs offered training applicable to other counseling disciplines such as clinical, community, or rehabilitation rather than training specific to school settings.
- School counselors were trained separately from teachers, administrators, and other school personnel. Therefore, required counselor-education courses were not necessarily connected to other education training.
- Counselor-training programs provided a variety of counseling core courses but did not provide counselors with specific knowledge, skills, or experiences needed to be effective in schools. Specifically, we noted an absence of training in leadership, advocacy, and collaboration skills.
In 1997, The Education Trust, with the support of The DeWitt Wallace Fund, developed a competitive grant process, sending requests for proposals to transform the training of school counselors to counselor-education programs across the nation. Seventy-five programs responded; ten universities received planning grants, and six received implementation grants. The grants awarded to the six universities started a movement known as the Transforming School Counseling Initiative (TSCI). The six universities—California State University at Northridge, Indiana State University, Ohio State University, State University of West Georgia, University of Georgia, and University of North Florida—received funding for three years and were asked to fundamentally change their programs to include the following essential elements:
- Diverse criteria for selection and recruitment of candidates for counselor preparation programs;
- Curricular reform of content, structure, and course sequence;
- New methods of instruction, field experiences, and practices;
- Induction process into the profession;
- Ongoing professional development for counselor educators;
- University-school district partnerships; and
- University-state department of education partnerships.
TSCI trains school counselor graduate students and practicing counselors to close achievement gaps of low-income students and students of color by improving counseling services in public schools. As a result of this initiative, graduate students at the six TSCI universities were prepared to work as leaders in schools collaborating with all stakeholders and to use data to advocate for systemic changes that remove barriers that impede student achievement.