Counselor Education Department Comprehensive Assessment Report 2011

This report will address the comprehensive assessment process of the three Counselor Education programs located in the Counselor Education Department, i.e., Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, and Student Affairs Counseling. Each of these programs is nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

The report will (1) identify each assessment used and the time frame covered by the assessment; (2) summarize the strengths and challenges identified from the outcomes of each assessment method; (3) review implications of the data collected via each assessment method; discuss the strategies the Counselor Education Department has used, or will use, to address the identified strengths and challenges.

Assessment Methods Summarized in this Report

The following assessment methods and reports were used as the basis for compiling this comprehensive report:

  1. A table summarizing the mean scores, and number of students who passed (among students who chose to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE), over the past five years (2006 – 2010). (Note: The NCE is a voluntary national counselor certification examination which students enrolled in CACREP accredited programs are permitted to take during the last semester of their program.)
  2. A Survey of Program Graduates from December 2006 – May 2010.
  3. A Survey of Practicum and Internship Site Supervisors from 2008 – 2011.
  4. A table summarizing the mean scores, and number of students who passed, the Counselor Preparation Competency Examination (CPCE) for the years 2006 – 2011. (Note: The CPCE was (for students entering prior to 2006) and currently is (for students entering fall 2009 and later) one of three optional comprehensive examination methods.)
  5. A Final Reflective Entry Summary Report based on final entries to students’ portfolios for the years 2009 – 2011.

(Note: From 2006 to 2009, a formative and summative portfolio was a required comprehensive examination method. It is currently, since 2009, one of three options.)

Summaries of the Assessments Identified Above

Assessment Method 1 — NCE

A. This assessment method measures eight core areas of counseling knowledge and skill identified by CACREP: Helping Relationships, Career Development, Assessment, Social and Cultural Diversity, Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice, Group Work, Human Growth and Development, and Research and Program Evaluation.

B. From April 2006 – October 2010, 28 students or graduates of the SUNY Plattsburgh Counselor Education Department elected to take this voluntary national examination.

C. The passing rate was 89%, as 25 of the 28 who took the exam passed.

D. The mean scores indicate that SUNY Plattsburgh students/graduates generally scored higher on all areas than the national mean.

E. SUNY Plattsburgh students/graduates’ scores, as compared to the national mean of test-takers from CACREP programs, tend to be slightly lower except for the area of Career and Lifestyle Development. The exception is the October 2010 administration in which the SUNY Plattsburgh mean in all areas is higher than the mean national scores of CACREP programs.

Assessment Method 2 — Survey of Program Graduates, December 2006 – May 2010

A. Program graduates from December 2006 – May 2010 were surveyed via an online survey using Zoomerang™. Graduates were from four programs: Community Counseling (this program ceased admitting students in 2005); Mental Health Counseling (this program began admitting students in 2006); School Counseling; and Student Affairs Professional Practice (the prior name of the current Student Affairs Counseling program). The survey assessed the degree to which program graduates felt departmental and program-specific objectives had been met.

B. Of 93 graduates, 45 responded, for a response rate of 45%; thirteen of the 35 graduates from Community Counseling and/or Mental Health Counseling responded (37%), six of 13 graduates of the Student Affairs Professional Practice program responded (46%), and 23 of 43 graduates of the School Counseling program responded (53%).

C. Graduates’ ratings indicated that 85% of the departmental objectives had been met, that 83% of the Community Counseling/Mental Health Counseling program objectives had been met, that 60% of the Student Affairs Professional Practice program objectives had been met, and that 93% of the School Counseling program objectives had been met.

D. Areas of strength in the graduates’ preparation with regard to core knowledge and skills included: helping relationships, counseling skills, social and cultural diversity, and ethical practices in counseling.

E. Areas of strength in graduates’ preparation with regard to program specific knowledge and skills in Community Counseling/Mental Health Counseling included: ability to assess and evaluate client concerns and ability to develop treatment plans.

F. Areas of strength in graduates’ preparation with regard to program specific knowledge and skills in Student Affairs Professional Practice included: ability to evaluate the importance of the student affairs professional as an educator, change agent, and learning facilitator within the framework of the university and society.

G. Areas of strength in graduates’ preparation with regard to program specific knowledge and skills in School Counseling included: the ability to offer classroom guidance.

H. Areas offering challenges to the faculty of the Counselor Education Department include: skills and knowledge in assessment, research, and program evaluation, treatment models for couples and families, and processes for developing referral resources.

Assessment Method 3 — Survey of Practicum and Internship Supervisors, 2008 – 2011

A. Seventy-two professionals who have served as practicum and internship supervisors from fall 2008 – spring 2011 were surveyed with regard to their perceptions of Counselor Education Department students’ level of preparation for the practicum and/or internship.

B. Forty-six surveys were returned for a response rate of 64%.

C. Supervisors responded to 35 items using a 4-point scale, with 4 = well prepared and 1 = unprepared. All mean response scores were at 3.3 or above (3 = adequately prepared), and 16 of the 35 items were rated at 3.5 or above.

D. The most highly rated areas of students’ preparation included: a commitment to high ethical standards (3.8), a commitment to collegiality (3.7), a commitment to the profession (3.6), a commitment to [his/her] personal and professional growth (3.6), knowledge of counseling theories (3.6), knowledge of effective counseling relationships (3.6), and skills and techniques of effective counseling relationships (3.6).

E. Challenges for the faculty in terms of site supervisors’ perspectives include (mean scores of 3.3 for each): a commitment to professional leadership, knowledge of data analysis, knowledge of conducting and applying research, skills and techniques in assessment and appraisal, skills and techniques in group work, skills and techniques in data analysis, and skills and techniques in applying current and emerging technological resources for counselors.

Assessment Method 4 — CPCE — Five Year Record of Scores

A. The Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE) was (prior to fall 2006), and is currently (since fall of 2010), one of three comprehensive examination options available to students in the Counselor Education Department. Students opting to take the CPCE take it during the week prior to their final semester in their program.

B. The CPCE assesses knowledge in the eight core curricular areas identified by CACREP: Helping Relationships, Career Development, Assessment, Social and Cultural Diversity, Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice, Group Work, Human Growth and Development, and Research and Program Evaluation.

C. From January 2006 – April 2011, 44 students opted to take the CPCE. Thirty-seven have passed, for a pass rate of 84%.

D. Twenty-nine of these students, 78% of those who passed, earned a score higher than the national mean at the time of their test administration.

Assessment Method 5 — Final Reflective Entries for the Portfolio — Summary Report

A. A formative and summative portfolio process has been both a required (2006 – 2009) and an optional (2009 – present) comprehensive examination method used by the Counselor Education Department. Graduating students are asked to respond to a number of questions before turning in their final portfolios. Beginning in the spring 2009, the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects at SUNY Plattsburgh granted permission for the use of the students’ responses for program evaluation.

B. Twenty-six students signed consent forms allowing the Counselor Education Department to utilize their responses to 17 questions about their experiences in the department.

C. Student responses to each question were analyzed and themes identified. Generally, students who were about to graduate highlighted the personal and professional challenges they faced while in the program, recommended that future students use faculty, peers, and other resources fully, and identified greatest areas of learning in communication skills, multicultural awareness, ethical standards, self-care, and self-awareness. Graduating students also emphasized the value of trying new experiences and stepping outside one’s comfort zone.

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

If you would like more information about counselor education at SUNY Plattsburgh please contact:

Dr. Julia Davis, Chairperson
Office: Ward Hall 106A
Phone: (518) 564-4179
Email: jdavi004@plattsburgh.edu