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The American School Counselor Association Model

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs

In 2003, The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) published its model for school counseling programs. The ASCA Model includes four components, which are the Foundation, the Delivery System, the Management System, and Accountability. In addition, the ASCA Model incorporates the four themes of leadership, advocacy, collaboration, and systemic change as an indication of how critical it is for school counselors to work in these areas to maximize the program’s impact on student achievement and student behavior.


The Foundation component of the ASCA Model includes the set of beliefs and the philosophy which guide the program; the mission, or program purpose; and the three student outcome domains of academic, personal/social and career development. Collectively, these create the what of the school counseling program. According to the ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Program (2003: American School Counseling Association), the assumptions which form the foundation upon which the school counseling program rests include the following:

A school counseling program:

  • Reaches every student
  • Is comprehensive in scope
  • Is preventative in design
  • Is developmental in nature
  • Is an integral part of the total educational program for student success
  • Selects measurable student competencies based on local need in the areas of academic, career, and personal/social domains
  • Has a delivery system that includes school guidance curriculum, individual planning, responsive services and system support
  • Is implemented by a credentialed school counselor
  • Is conducted in collaboration with all stakeholders
  • Uses data to drive program decisions
  • Monitors student progress
  • Measures both process and outcome results and analyzes critical data elements
  • Shares successes with stakeholders

Delivery System

The school counseling program's delivery system includes the activities, interactions and areas in which counselors work to deliver the program. Within the delivery system there are four components: school counseling curriculum, individual student planning, responsive services, and system support. The school counseling curriculum provides a vehicle for delivering information and connecting with every student in a systematic way. Individual student planning involves working with students and their families to develop and implement the student’s individual learning plan directed toward identifying and achieving future academic and career goals. Responsive services address student's direct, immediate concerns and include counseling, consultation and referral. Finally, the system support component enables the school counseling program to be effective through a variety of support activities including professional development, consultation, collaboration, teaming, program management and operations.

Management System

The management of a school counseling program is an organized effort: concrete, clearly delineated and reflective of the school site's needs. It involves analysis of relevant data, development of action plans to meet objectives, and provision of organizational activities. It answers the questions of when and why certain activities will take place, who will implement them, and on what authority the school counseling program is delivered. Clear expectations and purposeful interaction with all stakeholders results in a school counseling program that is integrated into the total educational program, and provides student growth and development.

Accountability System

The key question, how are students different as a result of the school counseling program?, is answered within the context of the accountability system. School counselors determine the effectiveness of the comprehensive school counseling program by measuring results, and use that information to inform program improvement. By collecting data, especially around change in students’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions, the school counselor can evaluate the program’s impact on student achievement, graduation rates, attendance, disciplinary referrals, and other student and system outcomes.

For more information on the ASCA National Model, and to read the Executive Summary, go to:

If you would like to order a copy of The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (Copyright 2003; ISBN 1-929289-02-2), contact the American School Counseling Association, (800) 306-4722, or

For questions about this information, contact (608) 266-8960