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Evaluating Guidance - Why, What, and How

Katz, Martin R.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Accountability, Evaluation Criteria, Guidance Programs, High Schools, Program Evaluation


The 3 major questions about evaluating guidance are: (1) Why should we evaluate? (2) What are we evaluating? (3) How do we evaluate? School guidance counselors must first define their goals in order to evaluate their performance and results. This is part of the counselor's accountability to himself and to others. And by communicating their objectives, the counselor can influence the evaluation others make of his or her work. The success of a guidance program is difficult to evaluate because defining and measuring behavior objectives are not adequate for evaluation. One can raise scores on a criterion measure without affecting the actual success of the program being evaluated. Longitudinal evaluation studies are difficult, and few have been conducted. Many variables and a considerable time-lag are involved in identifying wise decisions. And the tendency to generalize from results can be overdone. In real decision making students do not simply choose from alternatives; they can often create their own options. We can't define wisdom merely in terms of outcomes. Students make decisions after they have examined competing values and formed their own value systems. Without directing the content of an individual's choice, we can help him in the process of choosing. The major methods of evaluation are really inadequate because they fail to take account of human differences and their interactions with environmental circumstances. But we must, through evaluation, provide students with a model of decision-making behavior.

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