School Counseling Needs Assessment

Conducting a school counseling needs assessment is a vital step in running a successful counseling program. In fact, needs assessments should be the backbone of every school counseling program.

Why Needs Assessments Are Important

  • Establish baseline data
  • Identify areas that need the most support
  • Prioritize time and resources to high-needs areas
  • Can be given over time to evaluate change is perception data

What Questions Should You Ask on a Needs Assessment?

Counselors cover a ton of topics and it can be overwhelming trying to decide on what to ask your stakeholders. Keep your focus by answering the following questions:

What do I want to know?

A comprehensive guidance curriculum is, well, comprehensive and you run the risk of overwhelming your staff if you survey them about every area counselors cover. If you can get administrative backing to perform a comprehensive assessment, then I say go for it. However, if you want helpful information in a timely manner you will need to narrow down the focus of your assessment.

I choose to assess social, emotional, and behavioral needs/concerns. When I was new to my district I conducted a school counseling program needs assessment, where I asked teachers to rate how well they knew the program, accessibility, etc.

How will the information be used?

Some counselors have less than 250 students on their caseload and some (like me) have more than 1,500. When teachers/staff are answering questions about the frequency of services, they (at least on some level) will want you to provide the services you presented.

Example:

If you ask what frequency you should hold parent information nights and you offer weekly, monthly, and quarterly as choices…the expectation will be that you will hold parent information nights at least quarterly.

My recommendation is to use the needs assessment to gauge the issues and concerns the teachers are experiencing in the classroom rather than on how your program is delivered.

How to make a needs assessment with Google

  1. Open Google Drive to create a new Form 
  2.  

  3. Scroll through the options to select forms Start in Google Drive
  4.  

  5. Name the survey step 3 rename form
  6.  

  7. Provide a description and/or directions step 4 provide description or instructions
  8.  

  9. Customize the survey’s appearance step 5 customize appearance
  10.  

  11. Customize with an image step 6 customize with image
  12.  

  13. Add questions step 7 add questions
  14.  

  15. Set the question type to Linear Scale step 8 change question type to linear
  16.  

  17. Set the scale for the survey step 9 set scale
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  19. Make the question required step 10 make question required
  20.  

  21. Duplicate the question to save the settings step 11 duplicate question to save settings
  22.  

  23. Preview your survey step 12 preview survey
  24.  

  25. Share your survey with stakeholders with a link or by sending it through email step 13 share survey
  26.  

  27. Check out your results 
  28.  

I guess now it’s time for less telling and more showing…

Here is a screenshot of the school counseling needs assessment I made on Google Drive using some of the examples from Dr. Sink’s professional school counseling website:

needs assessment

I try to keep my needs assessments short for those filling it out and to help me keep the data more manageable. Teachers are notoriously tight on time and they REALLY appreciate you keeping things as quick and straight to the point as possible!

How to Create a Needs Assessment with Google Forms

Creating a survey on Google is super easy! Check out the 60-second video I made that walks you through the entire process. 🙂

So that’s how I plan on assessing the needs at my schools…Do you plan on conducting a needs assessment this year? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

I would love to hear how you conduct your needs assessment or any questions you might have in the comments below!

 


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Comments

20 responses to “School Counseling Needs Assessment”

  1. Heather Clark Avatar

    Is there a way I can access this assessment so that I can use it in my schools?

    1. Heather Thomas Avatar

      Hello Heather-

      I wish there was a way I could share the electronic version, but there wouldn’t be anyway to separate our schools’ data. Creating a for on Google Drive is really easy.

      Go to Google Drive -> Create -> Form…the screen will walk you through how to set up your assessment.

      Hope that helps!
      Heather

  2. Shonna Morrison Avatar

    How did you get the “To what degree does our school….” to be a header?? Working on mine now. Thanks for getting my wheels turning!

    1. Heather Thomas Avatar

      You can add a text box right in the Google Doc. There is an icon you can select what type of question you are using…that’s where it will say “insert text”.

  3. Shonna Morrison Avatar

    How did you get the “To what degree does our school….” to be a header?? Working on mine now. Thanks for getting my wheels turning!

  4. Kristin Krinock Avatar

    Do you have a good parent needs assessment? I struggle with creating a new one every year and I haven’t found one that I really like yet!

    1. Heather Thomas Avatar

      I am working on one for the fall. I’ll be sure to blog about it. 🙂

  5. Deborah Avatar
    Deborah

    Love it! I am in the process of making the assessment document.

    1. Heather Avatar

      Great! Best of luck!!!

  6. chinelo obigwe Avatar
    chinelo obigwe

    so helpful. thank u so much

  7. Julienne Rose Penaranda-Saball Avatar
    Julienne Rose Penaranda-Saball

    hi I am From the Philippines and a Registered Guidance Counselor, I would just like to know how often do you need to conduct a needs assessment in your school? Actually we just conducted a needs assessment survey in our school last school year and now, I am thinking do I have to conduct the same needs assessment again for this school year? Thank you, highly appreciate your reply…

    1. Heather Thomas Avatar

      Hello Julienee!

      I conduct a needs assessment every year. This helps me identify trends and collect data. Since I use the information to drive my programing it’s important that I have a current understanding of the needs of my teachers and students.

      Best wishes,
      Heather

      1. Julienne Rose Penaranda-Saball Avatar
        Julienne Rose Penaranda-Saball

        Thank you so much for your response it helped me decide so I will also conduct another needs assessment this year. Have a nice day!

  8. Julienne Rose Penaranda-Saball Avatar
    Julienne Rose Penaranda-Saball

    hi I am From the Philippines and a Registered Guidance Counselor, I would just like to know how often do you need to conduct a needs assessment in your school? Actually we just conducted a needs assessment survey in our school last school year and now, I am thinking do I have to conduct the same needs assessment again for this school year? Thank you, highly appreciate your reply…

    1. Heather Thomas Avatar
      Heather Thomas

      Hello Julienee!

      I conduct a needs assessment every year. This helps me identify trends and collect data. Since I use the information to drive my programing it’s important that I have a current understanding of the needs of my teachers and students.

      Best wishes,
      Heather

      1. Julienne Rose Penaranda-Saball Avatar
        Julienne Rose Penaranda-Saball

        Thank you so much for your response it helped me decide so I will also conduct another needs assessment this year. Have a nice day!

  9. Haidee P. Malalis Avatar
    Haidee P. Malalis

    I am a newly designated Guidance Counselor in my school, I will be starting from the scratch. Any advice as to where I should begin?

    1. Heather Avatar

      Always start with the needs assessment! That will help you prioritize what you should spend your time on.

      Best wishes,
      Heather

  10. Mrs Caroline J Peacock Avatar
    Mrs Caroline J Peacock

    Thank you so so much for the wealth of knowledge that you are sharing with me – you really do have a bank of it!!!! It has been such a wonderful help as I have only been in private practice here in the UK and have now successfully secured a full time permanent position – dream job and your hints and teachings have made me look so much better and more professional than I could ever image. God bless you. Thank you again – Caroline x

    1. Heather Avatar

      You are very welcome! What a lovely compliment. Let me know if you have any questions!

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