An analysis of counselor role in implementing PL 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The purpose of this study was to determine which, if any, of seven variables, as well as the linear combination of same, help to explain a significant amount of variance between ideal and real role function of counselors in the implementation of PL 94-142. The study investigated whether the explained role incongruence was increased, independently or collectively, by the following independent variables: (1) discrepancy of counselors and special education administrators' perceptions of appropriate counselor responsibilities in assisting with the implementation of PL 94-142 (discrepancy index), (2) amount of staff development regarding special education topics, (3) experience, (4) counselor-student ratio, (5) sex of counselor, (6) degree classification, and (7) proportion of time clerical assistance is available to counselors.

The study was conducted in West Virginia by surveying a random sample of public school counselors and all fifty-five (55) special education administrators in the state. Questionnaires were returned by 204 of the 216 counselors in the sample and by 54 of the 55 special education administrators, for an overall return rate of 95.2 percent. Data was collected from January to March, 1983.

Results of the multiple regression analysis, stepwise method, indicated that the linear combination of staff development, discrepancy index, and experience explained a significant amount of role incongruence variance. No relationship was found between role incongruence and any of the independent variables when each was considered independently.

The item analysis of counselors' responses on the questionnaire indicated that a majority have assumed primary responsibility for eleven of the forty tasks on the questionnaires, even though a majority perceived twenty-seven of the tasks to be appropriate. The tasks which a majority of counselors perceived to be appropriate but had not assumed as a primary role pertained to the delivery of related services, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) development and evaluation process, communicating with parents to acquire or disseminate information, and administering instruments to assess areas such as self-concept, interests, and career maturity.

Eight (73 percent) of the eleven tasks which a majority of counselors reportedly have assumed as a primary role are quasi-administrative. The remaining three primary role tasks assumed by counselors include participation in school-based assistance team meetings and placement advisory committee meetings, as well as providing career education programming for handicapped students.