ASCA National Model Programs

Comprehensive school counseling programs are developed, delivered, and maintained to promote student achievement in academic, career, and personal and social domains. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) describes the national model of school counseling programs as “comprehensive in scope, preventative in design, and developmental in nature”. Utilizing the ASCA National Model as a framework for these programs, school counselors can ensure that this intrinsic, data-driven component of their school’s mission will secure fair access to a rigorous education for all students, identify the skills that students will achieve and are delivered to all students in a systematic manner.

Four components comprise the framework for school counseling programs: foundation, management, delivery, and accountability. While delivery of services accounts for 80% of the model, the foundation establishes the program focus, student competencies, and professional knowledge, attitudes, and skills that ensure school counselors are prepared to meet and exceed requirements in the profession. The management component incorporates assessments and tools that are reflective of the school’s needs to include use-of-time assessment, annual agreements, advisory councils, and action plans surrounding curriculum, small-group, and closing-the-gap. Eighty percent of the program is achieved through the delivery of student services, both direct and indirect through individual student planning, responsive services, and the school counseling core curriculum. To demonstrate the effectiveness of their program, professional school counselors analyze program data to determine how students are different as a result of the comprehensive program in the accountability component. Utilizing data to show the impact of the program on achievement, attendance, and behavior of students can lead to improved future results and action in collaboration with the school and its mission.

American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model

School Counseling Program Framework

Changing the question from “what do school counselors do?” to “how are students different as a result of what school counselors do?”, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) developed the national model of school counseling programs as a framework for comprehensive, data-driven school counseling programs.

Comparable to the academic curriculum that is found throughout schools, school counseling programs help to guide the role of the school counselor, illustrate services provided, outline competencies for students, and identify barriers to learning and access to a fair education among many more. There are four essential parts to any comprehensive school counseling program (CSCP): Foundation, Management, Delivery, and Accountability.


With a focus on student outcomes, school counselors work to develop a school counseling program that teaches competencies for students.

  • Program Focus:
    • Identify personal beliefs about how students benefit from school counseling programs
    • Create a vision statement defining a future for students
    • Develop a mission statement that is aligned with the school’s
    • Establish program goals on how the vision and mission will be measured
  • Student Competencies
    • Incorporation of the ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success to influence the develop of CSCPs around the academic, career, and social/emotional domains
    • Measuring student standards with state and district initiatives to help inform programs
  • Professional Competencies
    • Utilizing ASCA School Counselor Competencies and ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors to guide decision making and help standardize professional practice to protect students and school counselors


Utilizing organizational assessments and tools that are reflective of the school’s needs to include:

  • School counselor competency and program assessments
  • Use-of-time assessment
  • Annual agreements
  • Advisory councils
  • Use of data
  • Curriculum
    • Small group
    • Closing-the-gap action plans
  • Annual and weekly calendar


Provision of services to students, parents, school staff and community by:

  • Direct Student Service: In-person interactions with students
    • School Counseling Core Curriculum – Structured lesson plans designed to help students attain their competencies and provide them with the developmental needs in knowledge, attitudes, and skills
    • Individual Student Planning – Coordinate ongoing activities that are designed to assist achievement of personal goals and future plan development for students
    • Responsive Services – Activities meeting the immediate needs and concerns of students through individual, small-group, or crisis response counseling
  • Indirect Student Service: Provided on behalf of the student to include collaborations, referrals for additional assistance and consultation


Through analysis of school counseling program data, school counselors measure differences in students’ behavior, achievement, and attendance to illustrate the value and impact of a CSCP as well as to guide future action and improve results for all students.

ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success

The Move From National Standards for Students

Similar to the ASCA School Counselor Competencies the ASCA has also developed knowledge, skills, and attitudes that every student needs to achieve academic success, career and college readiness and social/emotional development. Advancing the 1997 ASCA National Standards for Students, these 35 mindset and behavior standards help to identify and prioritize expectations and achievements of students.

  • Access growth of students development
  • Guide future development for CSCP strategies and activities
  • Influence a CSCP that helps students achieve their highest potential
  • Foundation for guidance lesson plans addressing development needs
  • Directly reflect vision, mission, and goals of CSCP

Based upon the needs of the school, classroom, small group or individual, the school counselor selects a domain and standard to assess from two different categories: (1) Mindset and (2) Behavior.

Mindset Standards

In relation to their academic work, mindset standards are psycho-social attitudes or beliefs that a student has about themselves which become their belief system that influences their behavior.

  1. Belief in development of whole self, including a healthy balance of mental, social/emotional and physical well-being
  2. Self-confidence in ability to succeed
  3. Sense of belonging in the school environment
  4. Understanding that postsecondary education and life-long learning are necessary for long-term career success
  5. Belief in using abilities to their fullest to achieve high-quality results and outcomes
  6. Positive attitude toward work and learning

[Retrieved directly from ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success]

Behavior Standards

Visible and outward signs of student engagement, the behavior standards are commonly associated with student success, narrowed into three subcategories: learning strategies, self-management skills, and social skills.

[Resource: American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Mindsets & Behaviors: Program Planning Tool]

Last updated: April 2020