Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Katherine Mansfield


This explanatory mixed-methods policy analysis describes how school counselors' thoughts and attitudes contribute to the implementation fidelity of the Academic and Career Plan (ACP) policy in a suburban Virginia school division. A quantitative survey investigated counselor thoughts about the policy, implementation behaviors, and counselor ideas about equity issues related to providing college and career planning services to at risk students. Counselor interviews were conducted to provide deeper insight about the street level implementation practices and beliefs of counselors. Findings reveal that counselors place substantial value in the ACP policy and think the process is useful for connecting student interests and postsecondary goals to high school programs of study. Counselors implement the ACP policy with high fidelity because the policy incorporates counselor beliefs such as integrating the career pathway model into the course selection process. Counselors report spending more time assisting higher socioeconomic groups with college planning which results in less time for supporting at risk students. Findings indicate that counselors recognize the need at risk students have for additional support during postsecondary planning but are inhibited by the demands of higher socioeconomic groups. Finally, implications for school leaders related to improving counselor services to at risk students are discussed.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

March 2014