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To the Editor:

The arguments put forth by Darryl T. Yagi ("Counselors' Proper 'Mission' Is Serving Students," Commentary, May 2, 1990) are, as he suggests, current. They are not, however, new.

Mr. Yagi has ignored a growing commitment to competency-based programs in the guidance profession.

Though I do not necessarily reject the role of counselors as he envisions it, I disagree with his rationale and believe that there are other appropriate roles that counselors can adopt to meet students' needs.

Mr. Yagi states that counselors are performing quasi-administrative tasks. This complaint has been voiced for many years. I suspect, however, that such tasks are more clerical than administrative. Administration encompasses program development, management, leadership, evaluation, and accountability--functions that are welcome in any guidance program.

I agree that many of the clerical chores can and should be done by others. But such a change will come only after counselors change. Simply saying that counselors can make better use of their time in "direct student services" is not enough.

Exchanging one process for another or implementing any strategy must be based on the answers to two vital questions: What are the expected results of the counseling program for students? What are the most effective means of attaining those results?

I do not accept Mr. Yagi's implication that "counseling" deals with personal and emotional concerns and that these are areas that counselors choose, while college and career choices require "advising" and are areas that counselors are told to address.

Mr. Yagi supports legislation8that mandates the proportion of a counselor's time to be spent in direct student services. I am inclined to be less enthusiastic about such a regulation until I know what these services include and until counselors establish acceptable student outcomes for their program.

I was disappointed that Mr. Yagi concentrated on counselors' duties and ignored the concept of a program--specifically, a comprehensive, competency-based program. Like that of other school programs, the success of guidance should be judged on how well students achieve the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values contained in its content (curriculum).

I assume he is citing research when he writes that "most counselors say that at least 25 percent to 30 percent of students will have behavioral problems during their school career" and that "50 percent of students are likely to be referred for counseling ... because of symptoms indicating potential behavioral or emotional problems." Certainly, many of these problems go undetected in ourel10lschools, but his figures seem high.

In any case, it is important to keep in mind that the guidance program must be available for all students, not solely for those with problems.

Administrators will mandate a change in counselors' functions4only when outcomes dictate such a change.

Edwin A. Whitfield Associate Director Division of Educational Services Department of Education Columbus, Ohio

Vol. 09, Issue 39

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