The informal directions came after the principals of Gunn and Palo Alto high schools presented progress reports to the board on their efforts to improve counseling services.
High school guidance counseling was tagged as an area needing improvement in the school district's 2008 strategic plan.
But the issue became contentious last year when the parent group We Can Do Better Palo Alto pointed to surveys showing higher satisfaction levels with counseling at Paly than at Gunn.
The group argued that Gunn — which uses a traditional counseling model — should immediately adopt Paly's "teacher-advisory" model, which uses 46 teacher-advisers to augment a small counseling staff.
At Tuesday's meeting, Gunn Principal Katya Villalobos stressed that a Gunn committee charged with developing reforms comprises a wide range of viewpoints — including highly critical ones — on Gunn's current system, which uses a more traditional staff to handle academic advising, college counseling and social-emotional support for students.
Board members reiterated that Gunn should be free to come up with its own counseling reforms, but that collaboration with Paly on "purpose and metrics" is needed to ensure the two systems offer comparable services to students.
Superintendent Kevin Skelly said he would return to the board with a proposed policy on guidance counseling that includes language about purpose and that he would invite principals to return in two months with ideas about how to measure effectiveness of counseling at the two schools.
Kathy Sharp, a member of We Can Do Better Palo Alto, said she was pleased with the result.
Short of persuading the board to order Gunn to adopt Paly's teacher-advisory model, Sharp had asked the board to require Gunn to engage in joint planning with Paly to create a unified "mission, vision and curriculum for counseling services."
TALK ABOUT IT
What role do you think guidance counseling should play in high school students' lives? Share your opinion on Town Square, the community discussion forum on Palo Alto Online.