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The Impact of Elementary School Counseling Programs on Student Behavioral Outcomes in the First Year of Middle School

Brenda Chaney Leggiadro, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


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. Research has shown that students who do not graduate from high school are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, more likely to rely on public assistance, and more likely to be incarcerated than their peers with a diploma. While dropping out of high school is often a lengthy process involving many factors, concerns have been raised about the impact of suspension on high school dropout, especially considering that male students, students with a disability, and students who come from poverty face disproportionate rates of suspension. 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.

Subject Area

Educational administration|Educational leadership|Elementary education|School counseling|Behavioral psychology

Recommended Citation

Leggiadro, Brenda Chaney, "The Impact of Elementary School Counseling Programs on Student Behavioral Outcomes in the First Year of Middle School" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI28416470.