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High School Guidance Activities

Availability and Student Participation

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The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducted a survey on high school guidance counseling in spring 2002 for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education. The survey asked about 15 of the 16 guidance activities examined in the 1984 supplement. In the surveys, schools indicated whether each activity was available to students and the percentage of students in grades 11 and 12 who participated in the activity.

Among the guidance activities examined in the survey, the following were the most commonly available at public high schools in 2002: use of college catalogs, individual counseling sessions, use of computerized career information sources, testing and having tests interpreted for career planning purposes, and use of noncomputerized career information sources. These activities were offered by 92 to 100 percent of the schools. In addition, between 73 percent and 87 percent offered occupational information units in subject-matter courses, exploratory work experience programs, career days/nights, vocationally oriented assemblies and speakers in class, job-site tours, tours of postsecondary institutions, job shadowing, group guidance/counseling sessions, and training in job seeking skills. School courses in career decisionmaking were the least available activity, although this activity was available in 57 percent of all public high schools. Between 1984 and 2002, the proportion of schools offering a guidance activity declined for 3 of the 15 activities—career days/nights, tours of postsecondary institutions, and training in job seeking skills. During this time period, no differences were detected in the proportion of schools indicating that the remaining guidance activities were available.

Student participation (regardless of whether an activity is offered) provides a second indicator of the prevalence of guidance activities. The guidance activity in which public high school students participated most often in 2002 was individual counseling sessions (78 percent of students). Fewer students (44 to 61 percent) participated in 8 of the remaining 14 activities—career days/nights, vocationally oriented assemblies and speakers in class, testing and having tests interpreted for career planning purposes, group guidance/counseling sessions, occupational information units in subject-matter courses, the use of noncomputerized career information sources, the use of computerized career information sources, and the use of college catalogs. The activity in which students participated least often was job shadowing (17 percent).

As in 2002, the activity in which students participated most often in 1984 was individual counseling sessions (79 percent), and the activity in which they participated least often was job shadowing (5 percent). Between 1984 and 2002, the proportion of students who participated in a guidance activity increased for 5 of the 15 activities: occupational information units in subject-matter courses, exploratory work experience programs, job-site tours, job shadowing, and the use of computerized career information sources. No significant differences were detected between these years in the proportion of students who participated in the remaining guidance activities.

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