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"What do school counselors do?" The more important question is, "How are students different as a result of what school counselors do?" To help answer this question, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) created the ASCA National Model, which is a framework for a comprehensive, data-driven school counseling program.

Explore this section of the website to learn more about the ASCA National Model, its component parts and how developing a school counseling program based on this framework can improve student achievement.

 American School Counselor Association (ASCA) 

National Model


School counselors create comprehensive school counseling programs that focus on student outcomes, teach student competencies (Mindsets & Behaviors) and are delivered with identified professional competencies.


When building ASCA aligned comprehensive programs this means school counseling teams identify their beliefs that address how all students benefit from the school counseling program. Building on their beliefs, school counseling teams create a Mission Statement and Vision Statement for their program. Equipped with these guiding principals they conduct a data-based needs assessment to determine how they can have the greatest impact on students. The information gathered from this assessment drives the team's school counseling program goals

School counselors provide services to students, parents, school staff and the community in the following areas:


Direct Services

Direct services are in-person interactions between school counselors and students and include the following:

■ School counseling core curriculum

The curriculum consists of structured lessons designed to help students attain the desired competencies and to provide all students with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills appropriate for their developmental level.


The school counseling core curriculum is delivered throughout the school’s overall curriculum and is systematically presented by school counselors in collaboration with other professional educators in K-12 classroom and group activities.

Click here for Santa Ana Unified Core School Counseling Curriculum Resources



■ Individual student planning

School counselors coordinate ongoing systemic activities designed to assist students in establishing personal goals and developing future plans. ■ Responsive services: Responsive services are activities designed to meet students’ immediate needs and concerns. Responsive services may include counseling in individual or small-group settings or crisis response.

Click here for Santa Ana Unified Individual Planning Resources



■ Responsive services

Responsive services are activities designed to meet students’ immediate needs and concerns. Responsive services may include counseling in individual or small-group settings or crisis response.

Indirect Services

Indirect services are provided on behalf of students as a result of the school counselors’ interactions with others including referrals for additional assistance, consultation and collaboration with parents, teachers, other educators and community organizations.


Some examples include completing referrals for mental or physical health services, obtaining the release of information forms,  following up with providers, preparing to present a student at COST, using data to identify students in need of intervention or programs.


School counselors incorporate organizational assessments and tools that are concrete, clearly delineated and reflective of the school’s needs. Assessments and tools include:

School counselor competency and school counseling program assessments to self-evaluate areas of strength and improvement for individual skills and program activities

Use-of-time assessment to determine the amount of time spent toward the recommended 80 percent. or more of the school counselor’s time to direct and indirect services with students

Annual agreements developed with and approved by administrators at the beginning of the school year addressing how the school counseling program is organized and what goals will be accomplished

Advisory councils made up of students, parents, teachers, school counselors, administrators and community members to review and make recommendations about school counseling program activities and results

Use of data to measure the results of the program as well as to promote systemic change within the school system so every student graduates college and career-ready

Curriculum, small-group, and closing-the-gap action plans including developmental, prevention and intervention activities and services that measure the desired student competencies and the impact on achievement, behavior and attendance


Annual and weekly calendars to keep students, parents, teachers, and administrators informed and to encourage active participation in the school counseling program

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