High School Counselors and Advanced Coursework Opportunities: A Delphi Study
Creel, Debra Diane
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The purpose of this Delphi study was to describe a consensus among selected high school guidance counselors about common barriers to advanced coursework opportunities experienced by high school students. The Delphi technique developed by the RAND Corporation is a method that combines multiple rounds of questions completed by a panel of experts in a particular field (Hsu & Sanders, 2007; Pollard & Pollard, 2008). With the use of an expert panel comprised of high school counselors, the Delph technique was employed using iterations of feedback with multiple rounds of questioning. Collection of data took place from February to May of 2020, during COVID-19. Counselors responses were split between barriers such as caseload size, fear, and disconnectedness and student characteristics such as unmotivated or lacking a support system. Counselors were asked to identify the most significant barrier for advanced coursework between these two choices: who the student is (descriptions) or what the student does/has access to (fearful of the workload, too large of a caseload size). Although perfect consensus was not reached, the counselors agreed that lacking a support system (a lack of resources at home, encouragement, or understanding by their family) was the most significant obstacle to student enrollment in advanced coursework. When asked why they chose to rank as they did, counselors agreed there was a connectedness among the barriers presented to them. Counselors believed that there was a connection between barriers such as support system and the disconnectedness students may experience at school. Implications from this study that could be put into practice are: reduction of caseload size, implicit bias training, campus consensus discussions, and development of a communication plan. Specifically, efforts must be made to lower the caseload size for counselors to allow them more opportunity to meet individually with students. Additionally, a lack of a support system at home could potentially be lessened through increased communication efforts. A communication plan must be designed to meet the needs of the population, respect the culture of the population targeted, and be specific as to how support will be measured and increased.