Editorial introduction: collaboration and partnerships with families and communities.
Article Type: Editorial
Subject: Student counselors (Services)
Student counselors (Social aspects)
Academic achievement (Social aspects)
Academic achievement (Management)
Authors: Bryan, Julia A.
Holcomb-McCoy, Cheryl
Pub Date: 10/01/2010
Publication: Name: Professional School Counseling Publisher: American School Counselor Association Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Family and marriage; Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 American School Counselor Association ISSN: 1096-2409
Issue: Date: Oct, 2010 Source Volume: 14 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 360 Services information; 290 Public affairs; 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 241277776
Full Text: The ASCA National Model[R] (American School Counselor Association, 2005) emphasizes collaboration with school stakeholders as a central role for school counselors. School counselors are often the first or second point of contact for stakeholders (e.g., parents and community members), and some school counselors rely heavily on community connections for meeting children's needs. More specifically, the ASCA National Model states that school counselors should provide "proactive leadership, which engages all stakeholders in the delivery of activities and services to help students achieve success in school" (ASCA, p. 17). Effective school counselors work with school stakeholders to promote academic engagement and success, college-going, and youth empowerment. Indeed, school counselors play integral roles in building partnerships with families, schools, and communities that help close achievement gaps, improve short- and long-term outcomes for students, and foster their educational resilience (Bryan, 2005; Bryan & Henry, 2008; Trusty, Mellin, & Herbert, 2008).

School-family-community partnerships are collaborative relationships in which school personnel, students, families, community., members, and other stakeholders work jointly and mutually to develop and implement school- and community-based prevention and intervention programs and activities to improve children's chances of academic, personal/social, career, and college success (Bryan, 2005). Certainly, recognition of the importance of school-family-community partnerships (alternately called school-family-community collaboration or connections or parent involvement) is not new. School-family-community, partnerships have been important components of previous education reform initiatives (e.g., Goals 2000). Moreover, the contributions of partnerships to students' academic, personal/social, career, and college success have been highlighted in numerous studies (Henderson & Mapp, 2002; Hill et al., 2004; Jeynes, 2005, 2007). The benefits of school-family-community partnerships are numerous for students and their families. School-family-community partnerships engender innovative and comprehensive strategies for facilitating student development and success (Henderson & Mapp; Henderson, Mapp, Johnson, & Davies, 2007).

Partnerships with school stakeholders are particularly salient for school counselors who are challenged to generate solutions to the multiple stressors and problems (e.g., homelessness, poverty, academic failure, school alienation) that many K-12 students face (Bemak, 2000; Bryan, 2005; Taylor & Adelman, 2000). Such partnerships have prompted innovative solutions to complex student problems by allowing school counselors to access and channel family and community resources to meet the needs of larger numbers of students, drawing on these resources to provide programs and services that they cannot provide alone (Bryan & Henry, 2008). When school counselors collaborate and partner with school, family, and community members, they create prevention and intervention programs that foster educational resilience in children; bridge cultural gaps among schools, diverse families, and communities; address students' academic, personal, college, and career concerns; and promote empowerment of students, their families, and their communities (Bryan; Holcomb-McCoy, 2007; Mitchell & Bryan, 2007). Indeed, one only has to examine the astounding results of the Harlem's Children Zone project to recognize the power of providing comprehensive school-family-community partnership programs and in-school and out-of-school supports for children (Dobbie & Fryer, 2009; Harlem Children's Zone, n.d.).

The aim of this special issue is to bring innovative theory and models and leading research on school-family-community partnerships to the school counseling literature and to spark discussion and research about roles and strategies for school counselors in linking schools, families, and communities for student success. Each article addresses the role of school counselors in fostering school-family-community collaboration and specific approaches and strategies that school counselors can use to link schools, families, and communities, and school and non-school supports, for children's success. The special issue has brought together an impressive group of scholars who study and promote school-family-community partnerships on a daily basis as a means of improving student outcomes and creating effective schools. Some scholars, such as Joyce Epstein and Kathleen Hoover-Dempsey, have pioneered groundbreaking theory and research on school-family-community partnerships and parent involvement for the past 30 years and have shaped the thinking in the field regarding the benefits, practices, policies, and training related to partnerships. In this issue, Epstein and Van Voorhis discuss Epstein's theory of overlapping spheres of influence and new directions for school counselors in developing partnerships to enhance student success. Similarly, Walker, Shenker, and Hoover-Dempsey extend Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler's theoretical model to consider how school counselors can work with school staff and families to promote parents' involvement in their children's education.

School counselor partnerships with families and communities must be grounded in a contextual and culturally responsive framework based on an understanding of the socio-cultural-political dynamics that affect relationships among schools, families, and communities. For the past two or three decades, Carola Suarez-Orozco, a leading scholar in global education, has studied family, school, cultural, health, and societal factors that influence the experiences and development of immigrant students. In this issue, Suarez-Orozco, Onaga, and de Lardemelle discuss the cognitive, relational, and behavioral dimensions of academic engagement for immigrant students and highlight culturally sensitive ways in which school counselors can foster academic engagement among immigrant students at multiple levels: individual, family, school, and community.

Indeed, school counselors can learn much about serving the increasingly diverse and multinational student population in U.S. schools, by examining partnerships among local schools, families, and communities both here in the United States and across national borders. Dotson-Blake describes findings from a critical ethnography that took her across the border to Mexico where she compared the experiences of Mexican families with school-family-community partnerships in the Mexican context with the partnership experiences of Mexican immigrant families in U.S. schools. Her study engenders understandings of the influence of cultural values on the purpose and structure of school-family-community partnerships. The cultural values of schools may inhibit or encourage Latino parents' involvement in their children's education, ultimately hindering or enhancing school success for Latino students.

Schools often are perceived as hostile places by African American students and families, especially those from low socioeconomic backgrounds (Bryan, 2005). The cultural gap between middle-class Eurocentric schools and African American families and communities frequently contributes to poor school experiences for African American students. Hence, Moore-Thomas and Day-Vines' discussion of culturally competent collaboration with African American families and communities is an important one. Moore-Thomas and Day-Vines emphasize the importance of school personnel building school-family-community partnerships that focus on the strengths and assets of African American families, a perspective often missing in schools, outnumbered by deficit paradigms that present significant barriers for African American family engagement in schools.

Enrichment and cultural programs play a key role in the academic success of African American students. Moore-Thomas and Day-Vines discuss the value of a number of these programs. Bailey and Bradbury-Bailey extend the discussion of the benefits of enrichment programs in their description of one such program, "Empowered Youth Programs," a multilayered enrichment program that they have implemented to increase postsecondary outcomes for African American youth. Empowered Youth Programs provide academic enrichment for African American students and parent education and support for their parents and have resulted in higher enrollment in rigorous coursework and increased college readiness for its participants.

College readiness is a key goal in current education reform as the national emphasis in education moves to all children college- and career-ready and to national college and career readiness standards (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). It is clear that parental involvement in schools is critical to college and career readiness (Bryan, Moore-Thomas, DayVines, & Holcomb-McCoy, in press; Perna & Titus, 2005). In this issue, Holcomb-McCoy examines school counselors' beliefs about their role in involving low-income families and families of color in college readiness activities. Given that school counselors may serve as a source of social capital for low-income students and students of color, school counselors' beliefs about the role of parents in the college-going process could promote or hinder college access for students in high-poverty high-minority schools (Bryan et al.).

Getting all children college- and career-ready will require education reform that addresses the school, social, and socioeconomic challenges that hinder low-income children from learning. Pedro Noguera, a national expert in teaching and learning and urban education, has summoned the attention of education policymakers, researchers, and educators to these challenges facing children, especially those in urban schools, families, and communities (Noguera, 2003) where, in spite of education reform efforts, students continue to be plagued by low academic achievement and underachievement, a disproportionate number of discipline referrals, and high dropout rates. In this issue, Steen and Noguera challenge all schools and school counselors to a broader, bolder approach to education reform that focuses on educating the whole child, meeting the educational, physical, social, and economic needs of students, and engaging all school stakeholders in providing in-school and out-of-school supports for students.

While the literature is replete with the challenges that low-income students and students of color in urban schools face, less attention has been paid to the challenges that many students and families in rural schools encounter. However, it is noteworthy that the current reform initiative highlights the struggles of rural children and schools (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). Like those in urban schools, many children in rural schools are at risk of school failure and face barriers to academic success. Griffin and Galassi use Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler's model of parental involvement as a lens to examine common and distinct barriers to academic success that academically successful and "at-risk" students face in rural middle schools. They discuss strategies for collaborating with parents of rural middle school students. It is notable that Griffin and Galassi resist the deficit perspective of "at-risk-ness" while exploring parents' perceptions of the challenges that at-risk students face in their interaction with schools and communities.

A common theme threaded throughout the articles in this issue is the critical role that school counselors can play in bridging and connecting schools, families, and communities and in creating conditions conducive for such partnerships. However, research indicates that some school counselors partner frequently with members of families, communities, and schools to deliver assistance, resources, interventions, programs, and other services to their students; others very rarely do so (Bryan & Holcomb-McCoy, 2004, 2007). Researchers have begun to investigate what types of partnership practices school counselors are involved in and why school counselors become involved in partnerships (Bryan & Holcomb-McCoy, 2004, 2007; Griffin & Steen, 2010). In this issue, building on earlier studies of school counselors' involvement in school-family-community partnerships, Bryan and Griffin continue to probe these questions. Understanding the reasons why school counselors build partnerships is important because school and personal factors could hinder school counselors' willingness to implement partnerships despite the potential benefits of doing so.

The articles in this issue also raise a number of important questions that beg answers. Questions include whether and how multicultural competence is related to school counselors' involvement in school-family-community partnerships and how cultural competence influences school counselors' ability to build diverse partnerships and collaborative teams with culturally different families and communities. Are the cultural competencies being taught in traditional multicultural counseling and/or school counseling courses the same competencies necessary for building school-family-community partnerships with culturally diverse families and communities? More generally, it seems important for counselor educators to identify the teaming and collaboration competencies and professional dispositions that school counseling trainees need in order to build effective school-family-community partnerships.

If school counselors are to build effective partnerships they will need to integrate partnerships into their school counseling programs and allocate time for creating such partnerships. Therefore, questions concerning program planning and time allocation will need to be addressed. How much time should school counselors allocate to building partnerships and what are the most effective strategies for building partnerships? Epstein and Van Voorhis suggest that 20% of school counselors' time should be allocated to building partnerships. Is this an adequate amount of time and what is the most efficient use of this time? Are partnership-based school counseling programs more effective and efficient than other types of school counseling programs, or less so?

In this era of accountability and evidence-based practice, school counselors also must be concerned about the outcomes of partnerships. They must begin to conduct research on the effects of school counselor partnership programs on academic achievement; student attendance; behavior and bullying referrals; college application and enrollment; dropout rates; disproportionate rates of referral, suspension, and expulsion; and other student outcomes. Further, school counselors wilt need to evaluate partnership programs to identify the elements or strategies that work ha accomplishing a priori goals and outcomes and to eliminate ineffective practices.

Partnerships that bring schools, families, and community members together to uncover, develop, and implement creative ideas and programs to help students succeed are a viable strategy to address the overwhelming academe, social, economic, and personal difficulties that many students thee. It is our hope that the specify issue will increase understanding regarding the benefits and strategies of partner ships and build courage to implement innovative school-family-community partnership programs, We encourage school counselors, counselor educators, and counseling students to collaborate on implementing and evaluating partnership initiatives in the school and the community and to conduct collaborative quantitative and qualitative research to answer questions raised in this issue.


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Julia A. Bryan, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling and Personnel Services, University of Maryland at College Park. E-mail: jabryan@umd.edu Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, Ph.D., is a professor and chair of the Department of Counseling and Human Services, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.
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