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More Effective Preservice Preparation in Special Education for School Counselors: Implications From Research
Unformatted Document Text:  1 More Effective Preservice Preparation in Special Education for School Counselors: Implications from Research Section I: Content Statement of the issue. Professional school counselors play an integral role in the educational lives of students with disabilities. The United States Department of Education acknowledged the importance of their role by stating that school counseling is one of the top services most needed by exceptional school-aged students (Bowen & Glenn, 1998). Yet there is concern whether school counselors have received adequate preservice training to prepare them for these roles, particularly in this era of inclusive education and school reform. This presentation will center on this concern, by firstly reporting the results of a national research study of practicing school counselors and their preservice preparation in special education. The research specifically addressed the following question: How much preservice preparation in special education have school counselors received? The sample was randomly drawn from the national population of school counselors who were members of the American School Counselor Association. The instrument was a mailed survey of 34 activities related to providing services to students with special needs, in which school counselors may become involved. Accompanying the activity list was a 5-point Likert Scale, which measured the amount of preservice training received by the respondents related to the activity, ranging from no courses or workshops to 3 or more courses/workshops. The mean rating scores of activities were computed and ranked within and across the four subsets of activities. The average mean per subset of activities was computed and rank ordered. A second focus of the presentation is to apply the implications from the research and make the case for the need to redesign preservice counselor training to include more special education content. Thirdly, specific options for this program redesign will be discussed. Literature review. Although school counselors have the responsibility to work "with all students, especially those who are considered 'at-risk' and those with special needs" (American School Counselor Association (ASCA), 1993, p. 1), there appears to be a historical notable deficiency in exposure to special education content for preservice school counselors. In their national investigation of 238 counselor education programs, Korinek and Prillaman (1992) found that while most programs encouraged training with students with special needs, they did not require it. While things seemed to have improved according to the results of Frantz and Prillaman’s 1993 study, which found that 61% of the states either require or are considering coursework in special education, 36% of the states still did not require coursework in special education for certification in counseling. Farrell (1996) noted that only six states required graduate training in working with students with special needs (cited in Scarborough & Deck, 1998). A survey of counselor educators at United States universities (McEachern, 2003) found that while 53% of the surveyed programs reported exceptional education-related competencies incorporated into program courses, 62% of the surveyed programs did not offer a course specific to exceptional education. While these types of investigations indicate the need for additional preservice training in special education through a discussion of preparation requirements, this need is also supported through the perceptions of the counselors themselves. In their research with elementary counselors in Virginia, Helms and Katsiyannis (1992) reported that the

Authors: Quigney, Theresa.
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1
More Effective Preservice Preparation in Special Education for School Counselors:
Implications from Research
Section I: Content
Statement of the issue
. Professional school counselors play an integral role in the
educational lives of students with disabilities. The United States Department of
Education acknowledged the importance of their role by stating that school counseling is
one of the top services most needed by exceptional school-aged students (Bowen &
Glenn, 1998). Yet there is concern whether school counselors have received adequate
preservice training to prepare them for these roles, particularly in this era of inclusive
education and school reform. This presentation will center on this concern, by firstly
reporting the results of a national research study of practicing school counselors and their
preservice preparation in special education. The research specifically addressed the
following question: How much preservice preparation in special education have school
counselors received?
The sample was randomly drawn from the national population of school counselors
who were members of the American School Counselor Association. The instrument was
a mailed survey of 34 activities related to providing services to students with special
needs, in which school counselors may become involved. Accompanying the activity list
was a 5-point Likert Scale, which measured the amount of preservice training received by
the respondents related to the activity, ranging from no courses or workshops to 3 or
more courses/workshops
. The mean rating scores of activities were computed and
ranked within and across the four subsets of activities. The average mean per subset of
activities was computed and rank ordered.
A second focus of the presentation is to apply the implications from the research and
make the case for the need to redesign preservice counselor training to include more
special education content. Thirdly, specific options for this program redesign will be
discussed.
Literature review. Although school counselors have the responsibility to work "with
all students, especially those who are considered 'at-risk' and those with special needs"
(American School Counselor Association (ASCA), 1993, p. 1), there appears to be a
historical notable deficiency in exposure to special education content for preservice
school counselors. In their national investigation of 238 counselor education programs,
Korinek and Prillaman (1992) found that while most programs encouraged training with
students with special needs, they did not require it. While things seemed to have
improved according to the results of Frantz and Prillaman’s 1993 study, which found that
61% of the states either require or are considering coursework in special education, 36%
of the states still did not require coursework in special education for certification in
counseling. Farrell (1996) noted that only six states required graduate training in
working with students with special needs (cited in Scarborough & Deck, 1998). A survey
of counselor educators at United States universities (McEachern, 2003) found that while
53% of the surveyed programs reported exceptional education-related competencies
incorporated into program courses, 62% of the surveyed programs did not offer a course
specific to exceptional education.
While these types of investigations indicate the need for additional preservice training
in special education through a discussion of preparation requirements, this need is also
supported through the perceptions of the counselors themselves. In their research with
elementary counselors in Virginia, Helms and Katsiyannis (1992) reported that the


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