CASC Partners with CSCRIN
A new project is being initiated by the University of San Diego's Center for Student Support Systems (CS3), in conjunction with other leaders in school counseling. CAL ARC stands for the California Action Research Collaborative, a project being launched in partnership with CASC and Saint Mary's College of California. CAL ARC is also a component of the California School Counseling Research Interest Network (CSCRIN), which CS3 established this past fall in partnership with CASC, Saint Mary's College of California, and the University of Redlands. Both efforts are intended to help strengthen the position of school counseling in California through developing a stronger evidence base regarding the effectiveness of school counseling interventions and programs. Our hope is that some of you will see the potential of this work to support your efforts to keep school counseling in California schools and that you will consider getting involved with the work of CSCRIN or CAL ARC or both.
These initiatives reflect prioritizing and planning that took place all last academic year. We know these are extremely tough times for school counseling, and for education in general, in California. Yet we also know that school counseling is needed more than ever. So, what is to be done? We believe we need to be very strategic at this time: we do not have time or resources to flail around trying to slay this or that random dragon. In our view, one strategic imperative is to be better organized in making the case for school counseling, and we think the most significant part of the needed organization is to bring solid, credible evidence to the table in all discussions regarding funding cuts in education. What works to reduce the alarming drop out rates in California schools? What works in responding to the significant needs of California's English language learners in overcoming barriers to learning? What works in addressing the personal and social development and career development needs of California students in relationship to their post-secondary planning? These are the kinds of questions we have to ask and find answers to at this time.
As hard as it can be to step back from the painful reality of immediate pink slipping crises, it seems clear that to preserve a future for school counseling in California we have to take a longer view. That is what CSCRIN and CAL ARC propose to do. CAL ARC will help extend the emerging interest in and use of action research as a powerful tool for educators needing to document the effectiveness of their work and wishing to dialogue with other practitioners about what works. CSCRIN will link research with policy and practice in California school counseling. The network will serve as the premier source for carefully reviewed research and policy documents that link evidence-based practice with sound school policy in student support programs and will sponsor summits and professional development events that will help guide counselors, school boards, superintendents, and school site staffs in establishing evidence-based student support programs. In our work, no model will be sacred: we will advocate for what works and will work to gather the evidence for our advocacy.
Will all of this be easy to pull off? Of course not. We are clear that what we are talking about is the facilitation of an entirely new direction for school counseling in California. We know we will meet opposition, indifference, cynicism, and despair on the path we have chosen. If the stakes were not so high perhaps we would just back off in the face of the difficulties ahead. But make no mistake, California school counseling faces increasing marginalization, if not outright elimination in the next 2-3 years if we do not take strong and strategic action. Here at CS3, and we know among many of you as well, we are determined to not let that happen.
So, a simple step. If you are interested in engaging in a modest action research project next school year, please consider submitting a proposal by June 1. (As you will see in the informational flyer and application, the proposals are very, very easy to write.) If your proposal is selected, CAL ARC staff will work with you to develop your project, will provide technical assistance for the data collection and data analysis, and will help guide you in disseminating the results of your project.
As always, please feel free to contact one of us if you have any questions or wish to discuss how to get involved. We look forward to hearing from you.
Lonnie Rowell, Ph.D., Director
Center for Student Support Systems (CS3)
Co-Director, CAL ARC
Suzy Thomas, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Graduate Counseling Program, Saint Mary’s College of California
Co-Director, CAL ARC