Comprehensive K-12 School Counseling Framework

Section 1 - The Big Picture: Systemic Operation of the Connecticut Comprehensive School Counseling Framework

The CCSCF is a whole-child framework (academic, career, and social-emotional) that is planned and implemented in K–12 grade levels in collaboration with principals, teachers, and other stakeholders to maximize the educational success of every Connecticut student. The framework is an essential part of the education process and aligns with the district’s mission and the strategic operating plan. It is guided by the districts’ mission, the school improvement plan, and annual priority goals that are grounded on student needs, as identified by the student, school, and family/community data. The school counselor and the school data teams use multiple data points to assess student needs, identify priorities, and develop a plan of action to address the identified needs.

The CCSCF is systemic and delivers a range of evidence-based supports, programs, and practices to address student needs based on a systemwide approach, called a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS). The CCSCF ensures equitable access to services for all students. The CCSCF uses a variety of preventions and interventions to assist students in overcoming barriers to learning; to make strong connections with educational opportunities in schools; and to ensure that every student learns in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment. The chart below illustrates the CCSCF’s overall structure and system.

School Counseling Framework Systemic and Operational Design

Connecticut Comprehensive School Counseling Framework

Six Themes

Leadership — School counselors align their department vision and mission to the districts. The counselors use leadership skills to build, implement, monitor and evaluate the school counseling framework. This collaborative process provides direction, guidance, and support, systemically reaching across internal and external boundaries.

Advocacy — School counselors ensure that students have the opportunity for success. They advocate for students to be treated fairly and have access to the resources necessary to meet their needs. Additionally, school counselors advocate for the school counseling framework and the roles and responsibilities of the school counselor.

Equity — Equitable policies, programs, and practices are to ensure equity in educational performance, results, and outcomes by removing barriers that impede progress and providing the appropriate resources to support students. A measure of fairness and opportunity in education, equity is embedded in the CCSCF, specifically in the school counselor’s ethical standards.

Collaboration — Building healthy and ethical internal and external relationships to support students and create a safe school environment that promotes the vision and mission of the CCSCF, student success, and advocacy. All involved parties work together to successfully design systems that are intentional and reflective in nature, and to develop a culture of learning and understanding.

Systemic Change — is affecting an entire system and transformational change affecting more than an individual or series of individuals focused upon the dynamics of the environment, not the environment (ASCA, 2019).

Accountability School counselors implement data-driven comprehensive school counseling programs and strategies to monitor student achievement, to continually evaluate and improve their school counseling program, and to demonstrate the impact their program is having on students (ASCA, 2012).

Three Domains

School counselors address topics in three broad domains: academic, career, and social-emotional development. These domains promote mindsets and behaviors that enhance students’ learning process and create a culture of college and career readiness for all students. The Connecticut Student Standards may cross multiple domains.

Academic Development goals provide the foundation for acquisition of skills, habits of mind, and knowledge that contribute to effective learning in school; employing strategies to achieve success in school; and understanding the relationship of academics to the world of work, and to life at home and in the community.

Career Development goals provide the foundation for the acquisition of skills, habits of mind, and knowledge that enable students to make a successful transition from school to the world of work and as careers changes across the lifespan. Career development goals and competencies ensure that students participate in a comprehensive plan of career awareness, exploration, and preparation activities (Appendix C).

Social-Emotional Development goals provide the foundation for social-emotional growth as students progress through school and into adulthood. Social-emotional development contributes to academic and career success by helping students understand and respect themselves and others, acquire effective interpersonal skills, understand safety and survival skills, and develop into contributing members of society.

Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) and the CCSCF

MTSS is an approach to organizing interventions, services, supports, and programming in a systematic way (ASCA, 2018, position statement, “The School Counselor Multi-Tiered System of Supports”).

Tier 1 provides universal support for all students. For example, in the CCSCF, Tier 1 support is the delivery of the comprehensive school counseling curriculum to all students. Tier 2 provides targeted support for students who need additional interventions. An example might be a small group work for first-generation college students or a social-emotional development group. Tier 3 provides intensive support and is a one-on-one session between a counselor and a student or using outside referrals. The approach is a culturally responsive, evidence-based framework implemented in K–12 schools using data-based problem-solving (the data is collected and analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the support or intervention) to integrate academic and behavioral instruction and intervention at tiered intensities to improve the learning and social-emotional functioning of all students (Sink, 2016). It is important to note that MTSS is a system to organize and map supports and interventions to ensure that interventions are appropriately delivered based on need, monitored for progress and adjustments, and measured the impact.

Connecticut’s Model Aligned with MTSS

Triangle of three tiers of support

Adapted from: The ASCA National Model (2019)
©Goodman-Scott, Betters-Bubon & Donohue (2019)

Tier 3: Equity-driven Direct and Indirect Services for FEW

  • Chronic, complex needs
  • Consult and collaborate
  • Fair, just, access and inclusion policies and practices
  • Wrap-around support
  • Internal and community referrals
  • Crisis management
  • Individual counseling

Tier 2: Equity-driven Direct and Indirect Services for SOME

  • Individual/small group counseling based on data/need
  • Fair, just, access and inclusion policies and practices
  • Critical team member/leader multidisciplinary teams
  • Appraisal and advisement
  • Support SSP
  • Targeted supports for college and career readiness for
    high needs students and transition planning
  • Consult and collaborate with teachers/staff, families and
    community, business/industry providers

Tier 1: Equity-driven Direct and Indirect Prevention and Early Intervention for ALL

  • School counseling classroom EBP curriculum and instruction (Academic, Career & SEL)
  • Large group/school-wide activities and initiatives
  • Fair, just, access and inclusion policies and practices for
    students and families
  • Universal Assessments and the use of data
  • Support Student Success Plans (SSP)
  • Student appraisal and advisement
  • Staff collaboration and supports
  • Family, community, business/industry partnerships

The CCSCF Themes and Components Across Tiers


  • Grounded in Student Standards, School Counselor Standards, Code of Ethics

Build, Implement, Monitor

  • Building and implementing the CCSCF with fidelity and the use of data and action planning


  • Direct and indirect services consistently
  • Equity and access for all students
  • Evidence-based practices
  • Focus on all domains

Assess, Act, Announce

  • Framework assessment and evaluation
  • Performance evaluation
  • Reporting results
  • Continuous improvement planning
  • Professional Learning