http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2013/04/05/new-gunn-counseling-survey-suggests-higher-satisfaction-level


Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 5, 2013

New Gunn counseling survey suggests higher satisfaction level

Official cites greater awareness, new staffing as possible reasons for better results than last year

by Chris Kenrick

A new survey of students at Gunn High School in Palo Alto suggests possible improvement in satisfaction levels with the school's guidance counseling program, which has been under fire by some parents and the subject of lengthy discussion by the Board of Education.

In a February survey of 1,238 Gunn freshmen, sophomores and juniors, students expressed greater trust than they did a year ago in their counselor's advice in the area of academics, classes and schedules.

They also expressed improved comfort levels about approaching an adult at school should they be struggling with personal issues.

In other areas, precise comparisons were difficult because this year's survey questions were not exactly the same as last year's. Assistant Principal Tom Jacoubowsky said some survey items were reworded to answer the questions of current staff but that the questions "have the same spirit."

Critics have argued for Gunn to adopt counseling structure similar to that at Palo Alto High School, which uses 46 "teacher advisers" to augment a small counseling staff. Gunn uses a more traditional model, relying on professional counselors.

A recent advisory committee on Gunn counseling reforms did not suggest a teacher-advisory model per se but included 40 recommendations that — if fully implemented — would lead to more assured student contact with adults at the school, members said.

Gunn officials said it will take three years to completely implement the plan and may require a change to the school's daily "bell schedule." Members of the Board of Education have asked Gunn to submit a detailed implementation timetable.

Of the new counseling survey questions that were clearly aligned with last year's, Gunn students expressed greater trust in their guidance counselor's advice in the area of academics, classes and schedules.

They also indicated improved comfort levels about approaching an adult at school for help with personal issues.

For example, 11th-graders who "agreed or strongly agreed" with the statement "I trust my counselor to help me if I'm struggling academically" went from 57 percent in 2012 to 71 percent in the new survey.

For ninth-graders the number went from 54 in 2012 percent to 82 in 2013 percent and for 10th-graders it went from 61 percent in 2012 to 78 percent this year.

Jacoubowsky said seniors were not included in the new survey because it was administered during course-selection periods for 2013-14, which seniors do not attend.

On the statement, "I trust the advice my counselor gives me about academic classes and schedules," ninth-graders who agreed or strongly agreed went from 61 percent in 2012 to 90 percent in 2013; 10th graders went from 72 percent last year to 87 percent this year; and 11th graders went from 73 percent in 2012 to 79 percent in 2013.

On personal issues, the wording of the question changed, but students appeared to feel better about approaching an adult on campus if they were struggling.

Last year, students were asked how much they agreed with the statement: "I feel comfortable going to my guidance counselor about personal issues that I might be struggling with." This year, the question changed to "I feel comfortable going to an adult at Gunn about personal issues that I might be struggling with."

The percentage of ninth-graders who agreed or strongly agreed went from 32 percent last year to 56 percent this year; 10th-graders went from 32 percent last year to 52 percent this year and 11th-graders went from 26 percent last year to 49 percent this year.

Jacoubowsky said it was "hard to say" why students appeared to be more satisfied this year.

"It just might be that we're getting the word out better — people have more awareness," he said. "And our website is much improved."

Jacoubowsky now emails weekly updates from the counseling office to the Gunn community. And a new counseling position added this year "helped tremendously" as did a new member of the support staff, he said.

He said that the school is offering more counseling activities to sophomores in groups and has improved its "Titan 101" high school transition program for freshmen.

Comments

Posted by old news, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Oh, Dear, what are WCDBPA going to complain about now?


Posted by Next up, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 5, 2013 at 7:24 pm

My daughter did not do well on her math exam last term so I expect that all the questions will now be changed to ones it will be easier for her to do well on but will not be as good at assessing her progress. I'm sure the gunn teachers will all now agree that easier tests are important.


Posted by gunn parent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 5, 2013 at 10:36 pm



And without TA. Hummm?


Posted by oopsie, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 17, 2013 at 9:29 am

The Strategic Plan survey results show the same, large, counseling gap between Gunn and Paly. The district's own data and its own slides show a large gap between Paly and Gunn counseling satisfaction for both college counseling and for non-academic counseling as follows:

1. While Paly raised its student satisfaction with college counseling by over 20 points in the past 4 years, Gunn's remained flat. The satisfaction gap thus grew and expanded from parents to students as well. In 2013 (see page 27): Web Link

46% of Gunn parents compared with 72% of Paly parents are satisfied or very satisfied with college counseling.

65% of Gunn students compared with 74% of Paly students are satisfied or very satisfied with college counseling.

Recall that district staff asserted that Gunn had the superior program of college counseling -- that this was the only area in which Gunn exceeded Paly in satisfaction and the one that district staff felt was the most important.

Not anymore.

The gaps are also stark on non-academic counseling:

54% of Gunn parents compared with 73% of Paly parents are satisfied or very satisfied with nonacademic counseling;

58% of Gunn students compared with 68% of Paly students are satisfied or very satisfied with nonacademic counseling.

63% of Gunn students compared with 75% of Paly students are satisfied or very satisfied with the availability of nonacademic counselors.

60% of Gunn students compared with 73% of Paly students are satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of nonacademic counseling.

Gunn parents and taxpayers: your school board absolutely does not care that you are receiving demonstrably worse services for over 20 years. There have been more than a dozen surveys over as many years all of which document this gap in basic district services. You are NOT receiving comparable services. Your services are much much worse. The board has accepted the district's refusal to close this gap.

Last month they accepted Dr. Skelly stating that he could not make services comparable because he doesn't know what comparable means.

That's your situation.