Needs Assessments, Evaluation Methods, & Data, Oh My! Part I: Data Collection

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According to ASCA, school counseling programs should be data driven, but how exactly do we do that? Today I’ll introduce a series explaining how I collect data, interpret it, and use it to further my school counseling program. My way may not be the “right” way, but it has worked for me so far, and it has been a great way to show my stakeholders what I do throughout the school year. Part I will focus on data collection…enjoy!


Individual Sessions

I keep a general log of all individual sessions I conduct during each school year. Part of my data collection is counting and categorizing these sessions. The first year I implemented this method, I counted all sessions at the end of the year and calculated percentages for different categories (i.e. how many grief sessions, how many conflict resolution sessions, etc.). As you can imagine, that was A LOT of work all at once and was completely overwhelming.



After that first year, I adopted a new system. I color code my individual session log by category {see above}, and every Monday, I get to school a little earlier than usual to add up my already categorized sessions. At the end of the year, all I have to do is add up my weekly count for each category. In my annual data report, I include a total number of all individual sessions and a pie chart breaking down the categories {because I’m a nerd, and I love pie charts}.


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In order to get these percentages, I divided the number of sessions in a category by the total number of individual sessions, then multiplied by 100. Example: 60 {# of anxiety sessions} / 544 {total # of sessions} = .11

.11 x 100 = 11%.

I’m not a math person, so if I can do it, you can do it!


Small Group Sessions

I use anonymous surveys to collect data from my small groups. {See my test-taking skills small group post to see how I use pre and post-test surveys to collect data}.

The surveys I use include simple yes or no questions that students answer during the termination session of a small group. Some questions include:

Did you feel comfortable talking in this group?

Did you have a chance to share your thoughts and feelings with the group?

Did this group help you realize you’re not alone in your problems?

Did you enjoy being in this group?

For these questions {where I want the answers to be ‘yes’} I count the ‘yes’ responses and divide the number of ‘yeses’ by the total number of participants, then multiply by 100 to get a final percentage. Here was my data for my Families in Transition groups this year:

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I also count total small group sessions and categorize them like I do with my individual sessions. Keeping a log for this really helps me keep track of that information.


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Need Assessments & Program Evaluations

The final major way I formally collect data is through needs assessment and program evaluation surveys completed by middle school students and all parents.

The survey I give to middle school students once again contains a series of yes or no questions. Some of these questions include:

Do you know how to set up a meeting with the school counselor?

Do you feel comfortable talking to the school counselor about personal problems?

Do you believe the counselor’s classroom lessons are relevant to your life?

Does the school counselor treat you with respect?

I count, divide, and multiply the same way I do with my small group surveys to get percentages for the entire middle school. Here were my percentages from this school year:

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The back of the survey includes a needs assessment, in which students circle up to 5 topics they think are important for me to present on to middle school students next school year. There is also space for them to write anything that helped them/stood out to them, as well as space for suggestions and feedback.

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The parent survey I use is sent every other year via SurveyMonkey. It includes the following statements, to which the parents respond “Strongly Disagree,” “Disagree,” “Neutral,” “Agree,” or “Strongly Agree”:

The school counselor responds to correspondence in a timely manner.

I enjoy reading the school counselor’s posts in the school newsletter.

The school counselor works collaboratively with administration, teachers, and parents regarding a child’s school success.

The school counselor is consistent and follows through on tasks.

The school counselor communicates in an effective manner to parents.

I understand the role of the school counselor.

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The parents then could select up to 5 topics they think are important for me to present to their children {choosing from the same list the middle school students do}.

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Informal Data Collection

I informally gather data from the lower grades in my final classroom lessons. I ask them to recall all of the lesson topics we covered that year, which tells me the most and least popular lessons, as well as the ones that stuck with students and made an impact. No percentages or math this time, but I still gather useful information!


I know data collection can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be scary! Check back on Wednesday to see how I interpret the data I collect and then use it to further my counseling program.

View Part II Here

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11 thoughts on “Needs Assessments, Evaluation Methods, & Data, Oh My! Part I: Data Collection

  1. Melissa Vogt says:

    Could you email me a copy of the logs you use as well? Data collection is such an arduous task! Thank you for helping to simplify it for us!


  2. Kaitlyn says:

    Hi! I am a new counselor and would love to see how you format these logs as I am having trouble creating my own on excel. Any chance you could send them to me?


  3. Laurie says:

    I would be very interested in receiving your templates for collecting data. So impressive!! I’m hoping you will receive my email from below.


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