Needs Assessments, Evaluation Methods, & Data, Oh My! Part III: Setting & Evaluating Goals

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So far in this series, we’ve covered data collection and data interpretation, so today I will share the ways that I use my data to set and evaluate goals for my school counseling program.

Click here to view Part I: Data Collection

Click here to view Part II: Data Interpretation

My hardcore type A personality loves setting goals. As counselors, we help our clients set goals for therapy and incorporate those goals into their treatment plans, so why are we sometimes hesitant to set goals for ourselves as practitioners or for our schools’ programs? Goals give us direction and keep us from remaining stagnant – which is why they are not always easy. My work life might be simpler if I did the same exact things every year, never adding to or altering my counseling program; however, the path I have chosen to take {which definitely increases my work load}, ensures that I am bettering my program and myself as a clinician every year.

So what makes a good goal? Some of you may be familiar with the idea of SMART Goals, which means that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. All of these factors are important in setting goals for your school’s program.

Last year, I caught myself when I almost set a goal that was completely unattainable and unrealistic. I wanted to increase the percentage of students who reported they feel comfortable talking to the school counselor about personal things by 10%. Sounds great, right? Well, it would have been, except that the percentage of students who indicated they felt comfortable talking to me was already 93%, so in order for that to increase by 10%, I would have needed more than 100% of students to mark that on their surveys {which of course is impossible}. After I noticed that blunder, I changed my goal to a 5% increase…you know, something that was actually feasible. 😛

Goals don’t have to be huge. They can be small, attainable things to drive your program forward. Here are my goals from last school year {with my evaluation of each goal to see whether or not those goals were met}:

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Once I evaluate my goals for the year, I immediately begin to make my goals for the following school year so that I can keep them in mind while doing some planning over the summer. Here is what I am striving to achieve by the end of next school year:


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I hope this series has helped alleviate some fears associated with using data to drive a school counseling program. It doesn’t have to be a scary or intimidating thing. In fact, once you get past the math part of it {if, like me, math is not your strong suit}, it can actually be a very exciting task to undertake. The information you gather not only shows you the progress of your counseling program, but it gives your administration a better idea of what you actually do on a daily basis. At the end of every school year, I give my principal and assistant principal a copy of my annual report with all of my data, and I think this practice has helped them gain an understanding of my role while giving me the freedom to continue what I am doing {after all, there is data behind what I do to show it is working, so how can they argue with that!?}.


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Thanks for reading! If you’d like more blog posts similar to this data series, please leave me a comment or e-mail.


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2 thoughts on “Needs Assessments, Evaluation Methods, & Data, Oh My! Part III: Setting & Evaluating Goals

  1. Orelia says:

    Hi Laura,

    I am loving your blog! I am finishing up my degree as a counselor and doing an internship at an international school and one of my duties that relate to a school project as well as my own personal goals I’d like to achieve at the school is data collection and showing how the program is working and what needs to be improved. So I would absolutely love more posts similar to this to help assist in me further using data as a tool of improving and further helping my students, teachers and parents.



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