Department of Educational Administration


First Advisor

Nicholas J. Pace

Date of this Version


Document Type



Leggiadro, B. C. (2021) The impact of elementary school counseling programs on student behavioral outcomes in the first year of middle school. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska).


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major:  Educational Studies (Educational Leadership and Higher Education), Under the Supervision of Professor Nicholas J. Pace. Lincoln, Nebraska: March, 2021

Copyright (c) 2021 Brenda Chaney Leggiadro


School counselors are uniquely positioned within the P-12 education system to ensure that all students meet developmental needs in academic, career, and social-emotional areas in order to become successful and contributing members of society. School counselors collaborate with other school staff and parents/caregivers to ensure that students finish high school and are well-equipped for the challenges of the future.

Because students who experience even one suspension as early as seventh grade show an increased likelihood of dropping out of high school, it is important to explore ways that schools can effectively decrease the chance that a student will receive behavior referrals that could lead to suspension. Identifying a problem and intervening early is key to successfully changing behavior.

In the sample studied, students who attended Title I schools in both 5th and 6th grades had disproportionately high rates of behavior referrals and discipline consequences. Those who had an experienced elementary counselor in 5th grade who was implementing a program based on the ASCA National Model, experienced significantly fewer minor behavior incidents, fewer major behavior incidents, fewer exclusionary consequences, and were significantly more likely to have detention, rather than exclusionary discipline, assigned as a consequence.

These findings are important for administrators, especially those who serve Title I schools, and for policy makers and state education officials who establish staffing requirements. This study affirms the important contribution of elementary school counselors to student success.

Advisor: Nicholas J. Pace