What happens when a school district focuses on developing a comprehensive approach to counseling—including social and emotional development, college and career readiness—in addition to academics? In many districts around Indiana, students are seeing improved outcomes, such as resolving conflict on their own, having fewer suspensions, and even completing the complex FAFSA form as they prepare to attend college.

Lilly Endowment launched the Comprehensive Counseling Initiative in 2016 to enable Indiana school districts to address the holistic needs of students and provide more direct time with counselors. Innovative approaches were funded enabling counselors to integrate social and emotional support with academic, college and career counseling to better prepare students to graduate and achieve beyond high school.

At Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), a social-emotional learning curriculum called Second Step was implemented in kindergarten through 5th grade. The district also opened a Future Center in all four high schools where students can receive post-secondary counseling on enrolling in school, enlisting in the military, or finding employment.

In Madison, Indiana, the initiative enabled the local school district to hire an additional counselor and reorganize the counseling program, and implement software enabling the system to flag at-risk students and better track their needs and progress. During the first months of the initiative in the southern Indiana school district, out-of-school suspensions declined 2%.

Thomas P. Miller & Associates has helped 11 Indiana school districts—rural, suburban, and urban—plan and implement the grants. In each case TPMA works with the schools to seek input from community stakeholders and conducts best-practice research on how to support students’ social and emotional health, while building out the other areas of comprehensive counseling. In many cases, TPMA is conducting a third-party evaluation to determine the extent to which the initiative impacted the district’s students.

Thomas P. Miller & Associates has deep experience in working with school districts, employers, and community organizations through program planning, stakeholder engagement, and evaluation. Contact us today to find out how TPMA can assist with your next project.