CA Standards for the School Counseling Profession

The California Standards for the School Counseling Profession

The 2023 edition of the California Standards for the School Counseling Profession (Standards) is presented with pride by the board of directors of the California Association of School Counselors, in collaboration with a committed team of professionals who devoted the past year to in-depth discussions and analysis, culminating in the creation of these standards.

The Standards provide an opportunity to expand upon the recent advancements made in school counseling. They are grounded in changes in policy, legislation, research, and the evolving role of school counselors across the Golden State. They support the paradigm that places emphasis on students through the lens of cultural sensitivity, equity, and accessibility. Their practices are evidence-based, data-driven, and culturally responsive, offering a continuum of services from prevention to extensive intervention. When school counselors adhere to the principles and criteria represented in these Standards, studies show that students experience greater overall success in their academic, career, and personal journeys.
The Standards were developed to coincide with notable advancements in the field. These advancements include the expansion of the school counselor workforce with over 14,000 currently working in California schools. This number has doubled since the last professional standards were published in 2009. While the California counselor-to-student ratios vary across schools, the statewide average stands at slightly over 1:500. Significant strides have been achieved with a 1:500 counselor-to-student ratio, but it
still surpasses the national standards twofold. Therefore, in 2022 Governor Newsom unveiled an ambitious 10-point plan aimed at enhancing student mental health, which includes a heightened commitment to increasing the number of school counselors.

Several changes in California’s legislative landscape have paved the way for the establishment of these Standards. In 2019 the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) updated the Pupil Personnel Service (PPS) Credential Standards.
In 2022 a significant milestone unfolded, marked by the passage of CASC-sponsored Assembly Bill (AB) 2508. This pivotal legislation revised the California Education Code (CEC 49600) – Educational Counseling. AB 2508 also gave way to a groundbreaking provision, granting school counselors authorization to deliver Medi-Cal LEA BOP reimbursable services.

Likewise, the recent publication of several documents reflects the evolving role of school counselors. “Best Practice: Guidelines for California School Counselors” laid the groundwork in 2019, followed by “Fostering the Whole Child: A Guide to School-Based Mental Health Professionals” in 2020.

These Standards were written with the keen awareness that educational inequalities disproportionately affect students from historically marginalized backgrounds, such as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and those with lower socioeconomic statuses. These students are consistently over-represented in discipline statistics and tend to exhibit significantly lower graduation rates, as documented by the U.S. Department of Education in 2021 and 2023, as well as the National Center for Education Statistics in 2019. Additionally, other marginalized and historically underserved groups such as LGBTQI+, English Learners, students with special needs, youth in foster care, and youth experiencing homelessness require consistent advocacy. The Standards are intended to recognize these historical inequities when referencing “all” students.

Finally, the Standards embody the collective wisdom of industry specialists from across California. This cadre of professionals evaluated evidence-based methodologies and best practices with the overarching goal of crafting a blueprint to address the multifaceted needs of students while aligning with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model.
Some may consider these Standards inspirational. Others may consider their functionality for crafting job descriptions and see them as a tool for conducting performance assessments. We wholeheartedly anticipate that most of us will both recognize the inspiration that comes from these Standards and view them as a practical step in better defining the role of school counselors statewide. Thank you for your dedication to California students and for your commitment to excellence in the field of school counseling.
Feel free to download an electronic version of the California Standards for the School Counseling Profession. Should you wish a hard copy of the book, please visit our online store to order.

California Standards for the School Counseling Profession - Rubric
This rubric is a tool for assessing a practitioner's proficiency within 19 key elements. Ratings range from Emerging (basic understanding) to Accomplished (competent) to Distinguished (exceptional). This tool helps gauge a counselor's effectiveness in these areas in order to guide professional growth and development. A "No Activity" rating may indicate a need for improvement or further training.  Download a copy of the rubric.

Other Sample Evaluation Forms
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Empire Union School District
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Wendell Unified School District