School counselors as resource brokers: the case for including teacher efficacy in data-driven programs.
Subject: Student guidance services (Methods)
Student counselors (Practice)
Teachers (Practice)
Authors: Colbert, Robert D.
Kulikowich, Jonna M.
Pub Date: 02/01/2006
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 2006 American School Counselor Association ISSN: 1096-2409
Issue: Date: Feb, 2006 Source Volume: 9 Source Issue: 3
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Canadian Subject Form: School counselling
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 142682713
Full Text: The term resource broker is offered to assist counselors with data-driven programs. A resource broker is a school professional who functions as an active force to identify, provide access to, and ensure the utilization of resources that enhance student development. A case is presented here for school counselors, as resource brokers, to include teacher efficacy in program assessments when data show inequities in student access to rigorous academic classes.


The time has come for school counselors to serve as resource brokers. In the context of this manuscript, the term resource broker refers to a professional within the school system who functions as an active force to identify, gain access to, and ensure the utilization of resources that enhance student development. Resources, in turn, refers to individual and institutional factors that can positively influence student development and learning. For example, an individual factor might be a teacher's belief that she can adequately perform her designated roles and responsibilities. Examples of institutional factors might be the means through which schools positively influence teachers to implement their roles and responsibilities.

This approach is useful when one considers the new focus on school counseling program activities, which must now be data-driven (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2003). According to ASCA, "School counselors must show that each activity implemented as part of the school counseling program is developed from a careful analysis of student needs, achievement and related data" (p. 49). For example, achievement-related data might include such data fields as course-taking patterns, discipline referrals, and homework completion rate. In this article, we focus on how measuring one achievement-related field can point to the need to collect data in another, and how, in such instances, the concept of the school counselor-as-resource broker has practical utility for school counselors.

One premise of a data-driven approach is that an analysis of course-taking patterns might, for example, show that one group of students disproportionately enrolls in more advanced-placement or rigorous courses when compared with other groups. Additionally, once counseling teams have determined that there are discrepancies in course-taking patterns among student groups, teams must "thoughtfully consider those factors which are creating barriers in those [course-taking patterns] areas" (ASCA, 2003, p. 52). One barrier preventing students from taking rigorous courses might be school policies that "don't promote student achievement or equal access to a rigorous curriculum" (ASCA, p. 53). In addition to school policy, we can anticipate other barriers associated with course-taking patterns. For instance, teachers might be resistant to the idea of policy changes that would encourage more students to take their academically rigorous classes.

How might teacher resistance be understood so that we can know what additional data (besides course-taking patterns and school policies) to collect? Knowledge of teacher efficacy is one way to gain insight into such resistance. Teacher efficacy is the degree to which teachers believe that they can effectively teach all students in their classes. Below we discuss how knowledge of teachers' beliefs about their ability to teach students can be used to increase the likelihood of equal access to academically rigorous courses for all students.

Teacher efficacy is one of the most commonly researched constructs in education, and for nearly three decades it has been shown to have a positive relationship with student academic achievement (Armor et al., 1976; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk Hoy, & Hoy, 1998). Thus, measurement of teacher efficacy would provide counselors with one aspect of teachers' needs pertaining to teaching new students in rigorous courses. Current research into the school counselor's role in education reform provides direction for ways in which school counselors-as-resource brokers can include teacher efficacy data in their assessments of course-taking patterns.


A multiyear qualitative collaborative research project has shown some promise for creating a new role for counselors in education reform (Colbert & Magouirk Colbert, 2003). The research team conducting the project at the elementary school level included a counselor educator, graduate school counseling students, and school personnel. The purpose of this research was to determine whether this collaboration could assist the school with its needs and create a "space" and role for school counselors in the education reform. Results indicated that school personnel needs were met as evidenced by the school staff using feedback from researchers as a basis for school change, which included the development of study groups to increase teachers' ability to improve instruction with a more diverse student population. In regards to a role for school counselors in education reform, the research produced the emergence of a new coaching method called the School Change Feedback Process (SCFP) (Colbert, Vernon-Jones, & Pransky, 2006).

When implemented, the SCFP focuses school counselors' attention on specific schooling process factors that can either enhance or hinder teacher efficacy. With this information in hand, school counselors can position themselves and their school counseling programs as integral contributors to education reform by providing leadership for addressing teacher efficacy concerns. Hence, the connection with our primary premise: that by attending to teacher efficacy, school counseling teams can better ensure that potential teacher resistance to instructing students who might be admitted into their rigorous classes as a result of policy changes will be minimized or eliminated.

Next, we examine how school counselors can work with school principals and others to ensure that teacher efficacy remains a resource and not a barrier for student enrollment in academically rigorous classes. We will begin by examining the context in which the information will be presented. First, note the four steps inherent in the SCFP process:

1. Obtain teacher efficacy beliefs.

2. Share teachers' efficacy beliefs with the principal and teachers.

3. Incorporate teachers' beliefs into the ongoing education reform or school improvement plan implementation with continuous feedback.

4. Obtain teachers' beliefs again, and repeat the cycle.

Then, we combine with the SCFP our definition of the school counselor-as-resource broker, which features three basic counselor responsibilities:

1. Identify resources.

2. Gain access to resources.

3. Ensure the utilization of resources.

These two concepts--the SCFP process and the school counselor-as-resource broker--provide structure to the following discussion of how school counseling teams can use data to eliminate barriers to providing all students equal access to academically rigorous classes.


In order to identify barriers to teacher efficacy, school counselors must determine teachers' concerns about teaching their students--that is, what is the teacher efficacy level (Wheatley, 2002)? An understanding of the teacher efficacy level will help counselors understand the barriers and assist in the identification of specific resources required to dismantle those barriers.

Obtain Teacher Efficacy Beliefs (SCFP Step 1)

Two aspects of teacher efficacy function as measuring criteria: individual and collective teacher efficacy. First, teacher efficacy is an individually oriented construct and can be measured using the Gibson and Dembo (1984) Teacher Efficacy Scale. While we believe that school counselors could use this individually oriented form of teacher efficacy to address barriers to students' success in rigorous classes, we have focused primarily on the second conceptualization of teacher efficacy--collective teacher efficacy--which will be discussed below. Our decision not to focus on individual efficacy at this point is based on the potential threat that individual teachers might feel if their own specific levels of teaching efficacy were identified. Over time, we believe that counselors can transition toward measurement of individual teacher efficacy, but only after teachers and counselors develop greater trust and confidence in their new roles regarding the assessment of collective teacher efficacy.

Collective teacher efficacy is the degree to which teachers as a group believe that their efforts contribute to their students' academic success (Bandura, 1993, 1997; Goddard, Hoy, & Woolfolk Hoy, 2000). School counseling teams can obtain the efficacy concerns of their teachers as a whole by administering the Collective Teacher Efficacy Scale (CTES) (Goddard et al.), which provides a picture of the overall school environment relative to teaching all students. Results of this assessment provide valuable information for counseling teams seeking to advocate rigorous class placement for students who have not had equal access to such classes.

In Table 1, we present four sample items from the CTES (Goddard et at., 2000). These same items also can be found on the Collective Teacher Efficacy Scale Short Form (Goddard, 2002). These sample items are taken from our current and ongoing research in an urban high school setting. Sample items will be used to illustrate how school counselors can use traditional and advocacy strategies to reduce or eliminate possible barriers to providing all students equal access to academically rigorous classes.

The counseling team would share this information with the principal and teachers. However, as a foundation to support the work involved in passing on the results of the collective teacher efficacy assessment, counselors would, at this point, need to have conducted the second component or function of resource broker: Gain access to resources.


One of the most important aspects of resource brokering is for counselors to secure assurance that the school principal will work with the counseling team and the staff to do everything within his or her power to address barriers to student learning, for example, inadequate collective teacher efficacy. Counselors will need to meet with the principal and inform him or her of the types of assessments planned and the resources that may be required. For example, counselors must talk openly about the possibility that an assessment of the school's course-taking patterns might reveal discrepancies in access to rigorous classes. In addition, a counselor may need to request access to resources (e.g., money for staff development) required to change or support changes in school policies. Consider, too, that the counselor may need to brief the principal on how the concept of teacher efficacy relates to this process.

Share Teachers' Efficacy Beliefs with Principal and Teachers (SCFP Step 2)

In this part of the process, counselors must share the results of the assessment of collective teacher efficacy with the principal and teachers. However, the goals for communicating the results with these two distinct audiences will be different. First, counselors will need to talk privately with the principal so that he or she will have time and "space" to digest the results and think about how resources can be made available to staff.

Next, counselors will meet with teachers. The primary objective here is to allow teachers opportunity to express their opinions about the validity of results. The counselor says, "This is what the results say about you and your colleagues on average," and then asks, "Does this seem accurate?" Remember, we are referring to average scores, so on average teachers should confirm the validity of the measurement. If not, then their comments should dictate modifications in the direction that is taken.

In sum, the teachers' comments provide clear ideas about the kinds of staff development that will help remove barriers to providing rigorous academic classes to all students. The principal will inform counselors of the necessary resources, as well as how school administration is willing to share these resources for addressing collective teacher efficacy concerns. Once this occurs, the school counselor's responsibility is to coordinate communications between the principal and teachers so that both parties can agree on the measures required to remove barriers to collective teacher efficacy.


Up until this point in the process, the focus of counselors has been on how principals and teachers might address collective teacher efficacy concerns. However, before principals and teachers can actually implement staff development activities, school counselors must explain how this relates to the school counseling program. This means that counselors must point out to their colleagues how the scored collective teacher efficacy items relate to the school counseling program. In Table 1, the column labeled "ASCA National Standards and Competencies" is an example of how the CTES items relate to the school counseling program (ASCA, 2003, p. 33; Hines & Fields, 2004). Following the identification of standards and competencies, specific student developmental goals can be identified. The identification of student goals will, in turn, lead to the selection and implementation of traditional school counseling program activities--such as classroom guidance lessons and individual or small group guidance--to address the student goals.

Additionally, counselors will need to advocate for students (ASCA, 2003). For example, if data show a perception that teachers are failing to reach some students because of poor teaching methods, then counselors will advocate for staff development to improve teaching methods. The next step in the SCFP suggests how to do this.

Incorporate Teachers' Beliefs into the Ongoing Education Reform or School Improvement Plan Implementation with Continuous Feedback (SCFP Step 3)

Counselors will now have an array of data from which to develop and implement strategies that contribute to the success of students in new rigorous classes based on collective teacher efficacy concerns. When examining Table 1, we begin with Sample Item 1--"Teachers here fail to reach some students because of poor teaching methods"--which resulted in an average score of 3. This suggests that teachers do not have a lot of confidence in their current teaching methods. Therefore, counselors might advocate for staff development aimed at improving teaching methods such as differentiated instruction--for example, teaching a group of student with diverse learning needs.

Although school counselors are not involved (at this particular point) in traditional interventions such as classroom guidance, it is still important that they monitor the effects of teachers learning new instructional methods on students. This is because counselors' action would have facilitated teacher staff development and thus would be indirectly linked to ensuing changes in student learning. In order to monitor student indicators of academic success in Academic Standard A ("Display a positive interest in learning," "Apply time management and task management skills," etc.), counselors could administer (if they have not done so already) an assessment instrument to measure student levels of developmental competencies. Whiston (2002) and Wittmer Thompson, Loesch, and Seraphine (2003) have developed specific assessment instruments based on the ASCA standards that counselors could use in these circumstances.

CTES Sample Item 2--"Students here just aren't motivated to learn"--also shows an average score of 3. In this situation, teachers might focus on students as the source of teachers' perceptions of limited collective teacher efficacy. While is it true that students can demonstrate low motivation for learning, we cannot assume that blame rests with the individual student alone (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Green & Keys, 2001; Keys & Lockhart, 1999). Average scores suggest that teachers agreed slightly more than they disagreed that, as a group, they have the confidence to motivate their students. This, in turn, suggests that intervention efforts must focus on both students and teachers. These interventions might include traditional counseling program strategies (classroom guidance, small group guidance, and individual counseling aimed at increasing students' self-efficacy so that they can be successful in more rigorous academic courses) as well as advocacy efforts (e.g., professional development aimed at helping teachers motivate students).

In our research, teachers function as advisers for a small group of students. We will use this format as an example of how teachers help to motivate students. The principal has provided resources in the form of time. Teachers will meet with their advisees weekly for 40 minutes (compared to monthly prior to our assessment and feedback), which will allow them time to get to know each student on a personal basis, thus creating opportunities for enhanced student motivation. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, school counselors will join teachers in weekly meetings aimed at identifying and addressing common student needs. In this context school counselors will make suggestions related to student motivation.

Sample Item 3--"The opportunities in this community help ensure that these students will learn"--as well had an average score of 3, indicating that these teachers, on average, disagree slightly that there are opportunities in the community to help ensure student learning. This particular item represents a negative impact on collective teacher efficacy and thus a need for intervention in this area. As shown in Table 1, interventions include advocacy strategies such as collaboration with community-based programs, groups, and individuals to identify and provide access to community, learning opportunities for students, for example, community centers with after-school tutoring and homework assistance programs.

In Sample Item 4--"Teachers in this school do not have the skills to deal with discipline problems"--teachers could use help, as indicated by an average score of 3. In this school, discipline is a priority, and teachers can participate in professional development identified by the district or on their own. Given that the teachers were not completely satisfied with the district's program, the principal agreed to provide resources for teacher-identified discipline programs.

The aforementioned sample items (in Table 1) provide a glimpse into how school counselors can organize specific actions for addressing collective teacher efficacy-related concerns based on good empirical data. We would prioritize the interventions to help ensure realistic expectations regarding achievement of objectives. In order to provide basic feedback, we would make observations of the professional development activities, interview teachers periodically about progress toward enhancing collective teacher efficacy, and perform other related activities.

Obtain Teachers' Beliefs Again, and Repeat the Cycle (SCFP Step 4)

In this step, we would conduct post-assessment of collective teacher efficacy and student development in order to evaluate the degree to which the traditional and advocacy strategies (in Table 1) served to meet the program goals. For example, significant changes in collective teacher efficacy scores would indicate that teachers are feeling more confident in their abilities to instruct students in academically rigorous classes. In such instances we would feel assured that the same counselor advocacy strategies could be applied to teachers who might not have participated in the aforementioned staff development activities. However, for those situations in which collective teacher efficacy scores remain essentially unchanged, counselors would work with teachers to assess the situation and make necessary changes in staff development plans.

A similar post-assessment or evaluation also would occur for students who participate in the guidance activities listed in Table 1. Post-assessment of student outcomes using the School Counseling Program Evaluation Scale (Whiston, 2002), for example, would indicate whether and to what degree there were changes in student developmental competencies (ASCA, 2003). Inadequate changes would indicate the need for modifications in counseling program activities. However, where students show significant improvement, counselors could continue the same activities with students who might not have participated during the first cycle of program activities.


A case was presented here for school counselors, as resource brokers, to include teacher efficacy in program assessments when data show inequities in student access to rigorous academic classes. Specifically, we used the school counselor-as-resource broker, combined with the School Change Feedback Process, to illustrate how school counselors can reduce or eliminate barriers to student access into academically rigorous classes. Below we provide a discussion of the three responsibilities of the counselor-as-resource broker: to identify, gain access to, and ensure the utilization of resources to meet student developmental goals.

Identify Resources

In the first component, "identify resources," we focused primarily on teacher efficacy. This section focused on preparing school counselors to understand teacher efficacy, as well as the importance of teacher efficacy when analysis of the school's course-taking patterns reveals discrepancies in students' abilities to gain access to rigorous academic courses. The goal of the preparation phase is to instill confidence in school counselors, especially in their ability to function in what will likely be new role "territory." When school counselors seek to convince other members of the staff and the school's administration (in particular, the school principal) of the counselor's credibility as a resource for addressing collective teacher efficacy concerns, counselors must be prepared with knowledge--in this case, knowledge specific to collaboration with staff" and administration to address collective teacher efficacy concerns.

Adding to counselors' confidence here is the knowledge that the principal, not the school counselor, will provide the resources for professional development that teachers might need to address collective teacher efficacy concerns or barriers to student success in rigorous classes. Counselors are more confident of their ability to deliver what they promise with clarity of roles in this type of situation. The counselors' role is to identify resources needed by asking their colleagues to complete a collective teacher efficacy measurement instrument. Therefore, we provided counselors with information about a measurement instrument that is effective for this particular task.

Gain Access to Resources

The primary goal in gaining access to resources is for counselors to collaborate with principals to secure agreement that necessary resources will be available to address barriers associated with counselor assessment. This factor is critical for two reasons: First, student success in new rigorous classes cannot be dependent upon school counselors and their traditional program activities alone (ASCA, 2003). In the case of providing all students with equal access to rigorous classes, there will be barriers--that is, school policy factors--that influence collective teacher efficacy. Changes in school policies suggest the likelihood that the school will require both human and political resources to support and make such changes. Second, factors contributing to barriers in collective teacher efficacy, such as limitations in teaching methods, will likely require another type of resource: funds for staff development. Hence, school counselors are provided here with specific means for how to successfully advocate when data suggest that such action is needed to eliminate barriers to student learning.

Ensure the Utilization of Resources

The purpose of this component of the counselor-as-resource broker is to integrate all work involved in the previous two components into the school counseling program. This allows for school counselors to remain consistent with ASCA's (2003) notion of a data-driven program. According to ASCA, the collection and use of data to drive school counseling programs allows counselors to evaluate their efforts when identifying what is working and what is not working. Specifically, the focus here is on how students will be affected by their participation in the school counseling program. Hence, by connecting the work involved in assessing and facilitating both traditional and advocacy school counseling program activities, school counselors will be in a good position to demonstrate accountability.

In Table 1, we illustrated how school counselors can match their collective teacher efficacy results with school counseling student standards (which serve as a basis for developing goals and activities). Additionally, we identified specific traditional and advocacy strategies for each collective teacher efficacy area. This is important because it gives school counselors clarity about what types of resources and activities are required for their school counseling program as well as for the principal and teachers. In other words, counselors are clear about where they are going in this process, and this helps instill confidence in others in what can be a very intimidating and challenging undertaking.

Summary of Counselor Responsibilities

In sum, the first two components of brokering resources provide counselors with a good foundation for ensuring that student developmental goals relate to collective teacher efficacy. The third and final component--ensuring utilization of resources--shows how the assessments of collective teacher efficacy, student goals, and possible traditional and advocacy strategies can all be integrated. This provides counselors with a good way to manage a lot of data and related action.

In this article, we relied heavily on just one construct--collective teacher efficacy--for the school counselor-as-resource broker to include in data-driven programs. However, given the large range of constructs pertaining to teachers' success, there is no need for counselors to include just one teacher construct in their programs. Therefore, we encourage school counselors to look for additional constructs when considering factors to include in their program assessments.


The school counseling profession has transformed itself from one in which professionals worked essentially without documentation as to whether they make a difference in students' lives to one that now features data as a foundation for professional practice. These data provide clear direction to counselor action and a framework for accountability. The concept of the school counselor-as-resource broker, as presented here, provides counselors with a means to gain and utilize resources necessary to integrate and implement both traditional counseling strategies and contemporary advocacy measures in their professional activities.


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Robert D. Colbert is an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut. E-mail: Jonna M. Kulikowich is an associate professor at the Pennsylvania State University.
Table 1. Collective Teacher Efficacy, Related Student Goals, and
School Counseling Strategies

Sample Items                      ASCA National         Traditional
                                  Standards             Counseling
                                  and Competencies      Strategies

1. Teachers here fail to reach    Academic Standard A
   some students because of
   of poor teaching methods.

2. Students here just aren't      Academic Standard B   Classroom/
   motivated to learn.                                  small group

3. The opportunities in this
   community help ensure
   that these students will

4. Teachers in this school do     Personal/Social       Classroom/
   not have the skills to         Standard B            small group
   deal with discipline                                 guidance,
   problems.                                            individual

Sample Items                      Advocacy

1. Teachers here fail to reach    Professional
   some students because of       development
   of poor teaching methods.

2. Students here just aren't      Professional
   motivated to learn.            development

3. The opportunities in this      Collaborate to
   community help ensure          identify and provide
   that these students will       access to community
   learn.                         learning opportunities

4. Teachers in this school do     Professional
   not have the skills to         development
   deal with discipline
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