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Office of College, Career and Technical Education

School Counseling and College and Career Readiness

The work of school counselors is essential to meet all the Commonwealth's goals for preparing more students to be college and career ready. Part of this work includes a partnership with the Massachusetts School Counselors Association (MASCA). Among our goals is to collaborate with MASCA to support and expand the use of the Mass Model for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs in order to repurpose the role of school counselors and position them as a primary resource to lead students in college and career readiness. This partnership is designed around the Massachusetts Definition of College and Career Readiness.

Massachusetts Definition of College and Career Readiness

In winter/spring 2013, The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved the state's new college and career readiness definition. Voting on the definition marks the first time that the two boards overseeing the state's K—12 schools and public colleges and universities have partnered in formal agreement on what it means to be prepared for success in college and in the workplace. The definition sends a clear, unified message to educators, students, parents, and employers about our expectations and the level of preparation and performance that signals a student's readiness for college and career.

This definition was further updated in to include civic preparation in February 2016.

The unified definition will provide a solid foundation for continued collaboration between the K-12 and higher education sectors.

My Career and Academic Plan (MyCAP)

What Is My Career and Academic Plan?

My Career and Academic Plan (MyCAP) is a student-centered, multi-year planning tool designed to provide students with ongoing opportunities to plan for their academic, personal/social and career success. Because the primary author of MyCAP is the student with guidance from at least one identified caring adult in the school setting and in consultation with parents/guardians, students are empowered to seek out learning opportunities that align with their individual career interests and self-defined goals. Through identification of interests and goals along with an acknowledgement of any barriers to success and supports necessary to overcome those barriers, MyCAP maps the academic plan, personal/social skill attainment, and workplace readiness activities required for postsecondary success. As the student comes to own his/her choices and future planning, MyCAP may also improve student engagement.

MyCAP implementation supports district and school goals such as: completion of MassCore (MA recommended program of high school study); increasing the number of students who take and pass Advanced Placement (AP) and college level academic courses; increasing student attendance and engagement; increasing high school graduation rates; and increasing the number of students enrolling, persisting and attaining a postsecondary credential.

MyCAP is intended for ALL students beginning as early as sixth grade. The MyCAP tool consists of both a process and an electronic platform. The electronic platform provides a place to organize and record progress related to academic achievement, personal/social skill development, and career development information that leads to workplace readiness. However, it is within the process that students: set attainable goals based on individual interests and strengths; engage in activities that promote academic achievement, personal social skill development and career development education; promote communication between students, school staff, parents, and other influential adults; and support school and district improvement efforts that are responsive to students' interests and needs.

For more information, please go to My Career and Academic Plan (MyCAP) webpage.

Introduction to the Massachusetts Model for School Counseling

Detailed information about the Massachusetts Model for School Counseling is available at the Massachusetts School Counselor's Association (MASCA) website.

The Massachusetts Model for Comprehensive School Counseling (Model) is a programmatic, organizational tool that links school counseling programs to supporting college and career readiness. The Model provides a framework for program implementation designed to transform the way that school counselors work. Program goals and outcomes are proactive rather than reactive. Program delivery is done equitably, moving away from traditional over-reliance on one-to-one counseling to a balanced mix of classroom-based content and individual guidance, advising and counseling. School counselors develop and use data and evaluation methods to measure the impact of their programs and coordinate efforts to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the requisite academic/technical, workplace readiness and personal/social knowledge skills and attitudes for college and career success.

The Model is designed to ensure that all students benefit from the school's guidance counseling program by providing consistent, classroom-based, prevention-oriented, evidence-based programming for all students as well as targeted small group and individual interventions for students identified as at risk.

Through the leadership of the Mass. School Counselor Association, The MA Model 2.0 writing team has been hard at work updating and refreshing the existing MA Model 1.0 document. The Foundation, Accountability, Management and Delivery sections have been enhanced to include current references, appealing graphics and helpful examples and templates for counselors to use in their practice. The final MA Model 2.0 document was released at the 2017 MASCA Spring Conference.

Massachusetts Model Mission Statement

Massachusetts school counselors will use district/school data to develop and deliver school counseling programs that are customized to their district's needs, with the ultimate goal of having all students graduate college and career ready (as defined and approved by the Massachusetts Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education and Board of Higher Education).

Objective 1: Academic/Technical Achievement:

In order to improve student achievement and promote a commitment to lifelong learning for all students, school counselors will provide tiered interventions that:

  • Objective 1a: Encourage academic and technical rigor and the need to consistently challenge students to a high academic standard and ultimately inspire their internal educational drive.
  • Objective 1b: Focus on the development of attitudes, knowledge, skills and experiences necessary for success in higher education, the workplace and other post-secondary options.
  • Objective 1c: Foster motivation, engagement and personalized learning by helping students connect their academics to future life and work experiences.
  • Objective 1d: Support DESE's college and career readiness initiatives and promote measurable student outcomes to guide success after high school.

Objective 2: Workplace Readiness/Career Planning:

To prepare all students to become successful adults and productive members of society, school counselors will provide tiered interventions that:

  • Objective 2a: Assist students in creating meaningful post-secondary plans and making informed decisions to reach their goal.
  • Objective 2b: Focus on integrating academic/ technical, personal/social and employability competency development across all grade levels.
  • Objective 2c: Encourage student participation K-12 in multiple career development education (CDE) activities with opportunities for feedback and reflection.
  • Objective 2d: Support the documentation of career development via an Individualized Learning Plan [ILP] and/or a Portfolio.

Objective 3: Personal and Social Development:

To promote the positive personal and social development of all students within a safe learning environment, school counselors will provide tiered interventions that:

  • Objective 3a: Promote the acquisition of appropriate self-regulation skills.
  • Objective 3b: Encourage the development of interpersonal skills for positive social interactions.
  • Objective 3c: Assist students to understand and capitalize on personal strengths and demonstrate resiliency when faced with challenges.

Massachusetts Model Vision Statement:

To implement standards-based K-12 school counseling programs statewide in order to ensure that every student has the necessary academic/technical, workplace readiness and personal/social attitudes, knowledge and skills for school and future success.

Goals: Specifically, MA Model 2.0 envisions school counseling programs that:

  • Provide ALL students with access to comprehensive, data-driven, and evidence-based curriculum with school counselors acting as leaders and coordinators of program delivery.

  • Validate and continue to advance the efforts of the ICCR Task Force to develop more well-rounded individuals who will attain the necessary skills (academic/technical, workplace readiness and personal/social) to thrive in the workplace and in society. It has become evident that "college eligible does not mean college ready"; therefore, school counseling programs call for the ability to assess the needs in their particular population and implement standards-based interventions to support successful growth in the areas deemed necessary.

  • Support high standards for ALL students by helping them to see the necessity and value of their education. School counselors, across grades K-12, will encourage students to set goals to continue their learning after high school. They will provide students with programs and assessments, which appropriately educate and prepare them for post-secondary education and the workplace.

  • Are data-driven and accountable by having counselors implement evidence based interventions, measure student outcomes, document results regularly, and use data to inform school counselor's practice.

  • Foster family and community engagement to ensure there is a viable link from school to home and within the community. Creating a culture where parents and the business community feel that they are equal partners in students' lives will provide the collaboration that is necessary for students to achieve.

  • Display students' tangible evidence of knowledge by creating a portfolio documenting their achievements in academics, workplace readiness and socialemotional skills showing seamless transition and development throughout their K-12 education.

  • Align with, and are driven by, standards-based, evidenced-based curricula particular to the individual district's needs so that appropriate interventions are able to take place and be measured for overall effectiveness.

Educator Evaluation and School Counseling

  • Massachusetts Educator Evaluation Website

  • The Massachusetts Model System for Educator Evaluation
    The Model System is a comprehensive educator evaluation system designed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), pursuant to the new educator evaluation regulation, 603 CMR 35.00. This includes a rubric specific to Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP) which includes school counselors.

  • MASCA Role-Specific Indicators for School Counselors

  • Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP) Rubric
    The SISP Rubric describes practice that is common across educators in professional support roles such as school counselors, school psychologists, school nurses, and others defined in the recognition clause of the appropriate collective bargaining agreement. It is intended to be used throughout the 5-step evaluation cycle for educators who provide direct services such as education, therapy, counseling, assessment, and diagnosis to a caseload of students, as well as educators who may provide indirect support to students through consultation to and collaboration with teachers, administrators, and other colleagues.

Last Updated: August 15, 2022

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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