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«Job Satisfaction Among Professional Middle School Counselors in Virginia By Tara Yost Bane Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia ...»

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Job Satisfaction Among Professional Middle School Counselors in Virginia

By

Tara Yost Bane

Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and

State University in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

In

Counselor Education

Dr. Nancy Bodenhorn, Chair

Dr. Gerard Lawson

Dr. Penny Burge

Dr. Christina Mathai

October 3rd, 2006

Blacksburg, VA

Keywords: Middle school counseling, Job satisfaction, Role conflict

Copyright 2006, Tara Y. Bane Job Satisfaction Among Professional Middle School Counselors in Virginia Tara Yost Bane (Abstract) The purpose of this study was to determine the current level of job satisfaction among professional school counselors working in Virginia public middle schools. In addition, satisfaction levels were compared with previous studies on Virginia elementary school counselors. Although job satisfaction has been widely studied in the past, few studies have focused on professional school counselors in particular. Information regarding job satisfaction is important in order to employ and retain committed school counselors and ensure that students are receiving high quality services.

Participants included 255 middle school counselors working in Virginia. Using a demographic survey and a modified version of the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ) (Weiss, Dawis, England, & Lofquist, 1967), the following research questions were investigated: What is the overall job satisfaction level of Virginia middle school counselors? What degree of job satisfaction is expressed by Virginia middle school counselors in regard to each of the 20 dimensions of job satisfaction as measured by the modified MSQ? What is the relationship between selected demographic variables and work setting characteristics with the overall job satisfaction of middle school counselors in Virginia? How does the level of job satisfaction of Virginia middle school counselors compare with the level of job satisfaction for Virginia elementary school counselors in 1990, 1995, and 2001? Does the current political and social climate of the public educational system affect middle school counselors’ feelings regarding their jobs and performance?

Analysis determined that 92.9% of participants were satisfied with their current jobs, with social service being the area of greatest satisfaction and compensation being the area of least satisfaction. Only 7.1% of participants were dissatisfied. These findings are similar to those found in 1990, 1995, and 2001. Using a regression model, the three demographic variables of gender, licensure, and intent to remain in the position, were found to be significant predictors of overall job satisfaction. Female counselors who held a Postgraduate Professional license and intended to remain in their current position for the next five years were more satisfied than other participants. Qualitative responses indicated that middle school counselors were most affected by the current political climate in regard to standardized testing, while the social climate affected counselors in regard to the difficult challenges faced by students. The greatest impediment to the participants’ preferred role was an excess of noncounseling duties, while administrators and principals provided the greatest support. Overall, the results from this study revealed that middle school counselors in Virginia were satisfied with their jobs.

–  –  –

I would like to acknowledge a number of individuals who were instrumental in the completion of this dissertation. First, a special thanks goes to Nancy Bodenhorn who graciously assumed the role as my advisor late in the game. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know her as my committee chair and friend. I would also like to thank Gerard Lawson, Penny Burge, and Christina Mathai for taking the time to share their expertise and serve on my committee. Thanks also to Tom Hohenshil and Hildy Getz for their support and guidance during the first phase of this endeavor. I would not have been able to complete this dissertation without the help of each one of you and for that, I am sincerely grateful.

The technical aspects of writing this dissertation were at times, overwhelming. I owe many thanks to Lynwood and Aimee Hall, for your efforts in sparing me numerous restless nights worrying over tables, lines, and page numbers. Thanks also to Juan Barbieri for being on call as my apple tech support whenever I needed it. Despite the distance, it meant a lot to me knowing that you were always only a phone call away. A sincere thank you also to my sister, Susan Eversole, who would come to my house and help with any urgent computer question at a moments notice.

A special acknowledgement goes to my friend, Anna Baynum. I will never forget sitting outside on the deck discussing how we were going to come up with the time to write our dissertations. Had we not worked together, I am certain that this project would not be completed today. I always took great comfort in knowing that my children were

–  –  –

Jennifer Slusher and Stacey Lilley. What would I have done without each of you in this program? Your friendships have meant a lot to me throughout this process and I look forward to them continuing over the years to come.





Lastly, I would like to extend my most heartfelt appreciation to my family for their support and encouragement. Thank you to my father, Bob Yost, for swimming with the kids while I was working. Thanks to my mother and stepfather, Cecile and Terry Roberts, for not only being wonderful grandparents, but also for your help with the monotonous task of stuffing and stamping envelopes. To my husband, Ember, thank you for everything. I would never have been able to write this dissertation, move, and have a new baby all within the same year, had it not been for you. We did it.

–  –  –

Abstract

Dedication

Acknowledgements

List of Tables

Chapters I Introduction

Background

Statement of the Problem

Rationale and Significance of the Study

Professional School Counselors

School Board Office Personnel and Principals

Educators

Purpose of the Study

Definition of Terms

Limitations of the Study

Summary

II Review of the Literature

–  –  –

Research Questions

Participants

Instrumentation

Individual Information Form

Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire

Reliability

Validity

Modified Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire

Data Collection

Pre-letter

Initial Mailing

Postcard Reminder

First Follow-up

Second Follow-up

Nonresponse

Statistical Analysis

Summary

IV Results of the Study

Survey Responses

Demographic Data

Age

Gender

Race

Membership in Professional Organizations

Testing Coordinator

Clinical Supervision

Years of Experience

Number of Middle School Counselors in the Division............ 75 Number of Schools Served

Number of Middle School Counselors in the School.............. 77 Student Caseload

Degree Status

School Counseling Licensure

Contract Length

Salary

School Population Receiving Free or Reduced Lunch............ 81 Remain in Current Position

Remain in Current Profession

Administrative Position

–  –  –

V Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations

Review of the Research Questions

Summary of the Results

Discussion

Overall Job Satisfaction

Dimensions of Job Satisfaction

Job Satisfaction and Demographic Variables

Political and Social Climate

Conclusions

Recommendations for Counselors and Counselor Educators.. 129 Recommendations for Future Research

Summary

References

APPENDICES A Individual Information Form

B Correspondence

C Qualitative Responses

Vita

–  –  –

1, Survey Response Rates

2, Age Distribution

–  –  –

8, Reasons for Leaving Current Profession

9, Type of Administrative Position

10, Current Political Climate

11, Current Social Climate

12, Impediments to the Preferred Role and Function of the Job

13, Supports to the Preferred Role and Function of the Job

14, Other Factors Contributing to Job Satisfaction.................. 103 15, Levels of Job Satisfaction

16, Hierarchy of MSQ Scales

17, Multiple Regression Summary

18, Chi-Square Test of Independence

–  –  –

In a time with increased societal challenges (Garbarino, 1995) and violence (Zins, Travis, Brown, and Knighton, 1994), professional school counselors are in the unique position to play a leadership role in ensuring that schools are safe for all students to learn (Bemak, 2000). Few studies, however, have focused on the job satisfaction of middle school counselors and research has suggested that job satisfaction is positively related to performance (Bledsoe & Haywood, 1981; Capella & Andrew, 2004) and turnover rates and absenteeism (Martin & Schinke, 1998; Pinder, 1998). In order for school counselors to successfully implement the American School Counselor Association’s National Model (ASCA) (American School Counselor Association, 2003), the profession must employ and retain dedicated school counselors (Schwallie-Giddis, ter Maat, & Pak, 2003).

This chapter provides an introduction to the study. The statement of the problem is presented, along with the rationale and significance of the research topic with respect to professional school counselors, educators, and school board personnel and principals.

In addition, the purpose of the research, the definitions of significant terms, and the limitations are provided. The chapter concludes with a brief summary.

Background Virginia students are expected to achieve academic proficiency rates based upon national and state standards. These standards are set in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB) (United States Department of Education, 2002) and Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL). NCLB is an educational reform effort passed into law on January 8, 2002 in an attempt to close the achievement gap and ensure all students succeed in school, regardless of gender, race, family income, or ethnicity. Under this federal legislation, states are required to demonstrate adequate yearly progress in raising the number of students who are proficient in the areas of reading and mathematics. NCLB incorporates five specific performance goals which include: (a) all students will reach proficiency in reading and math by 2013-2014; (b) all limited English proficiency students will reach minimum standards or better for competence in English, reading, and math; (c) students will be taught by highly qualified teachers by 2005-2006;

(d) all students will graduate from high school; (e) and schools will be safe and drug free (United States Department of Education, 2002).

In 1995, the Virginia Board of Education adopted state expectations through SOL objectives for students in the core academic areas of math, science, English, and history/social studies. SOL assessment results are used in making decisions regarding student graduation, promotion and retention, and school accreditation (Virginia Department of Education, 2005a). As of the 2003-2004 school year, schools are fully accredited when 70% of eligible students meet the pass rates in each of the core areas, with the exception of 75% pass rates for third and fifth grades in English and 50% in third grade science and social studies. According to the Virginia School Report Card, currently 85.7% of 1, 806 Virginia schools are fully accredited with 14% (255 schools) accredited with warning (Virginia Department of Education, 2005b). For all eighth grade students in Virginia, 72% passed the reading SOL, 77% passed the writing SOL, and 78% passed the math SOL (Virginia Department of Education, n.d.).

Certainly, these standards set by federal and state legislation have increased academic expectations and pressures for all students in school today. Despite the rise in academic standards, however, students are faced with a vast array of other difficult challenges both old and new. Issues such as poor academic achievement, poverty, substance abuse, physical and sexual abuse, divorce, suicide, violence, and the threat to homeland security are just to name a few. Even a decade ago, Zins et al. (1994) found that because of a rise in violent behaviors at school, many students did not feel their academic environments were safe. In 2002, students 12-18 years of age were victims of approximately 1.8 million nonfatal crimes while at school and 1.5 million crimes away from school (DeVoe et al., 2004). The following year, 45% of students in grades 9 through 12 reported drinking at least one alcoholic drink within the previous year, and 22% of students reported using marijuana during the last month, while 29% of students in the same grades reported that someone had offered, given, or sold them an illegal drug on school property within the previous year (DeVoe et al., 2004). Garbarino (1995) reported that 14 to 15 million children were living in a socially and psychologically toxic environment in which the mere act of living in our society is dangerous to their health and well-being. According to Gabarino, the quality of social life has deteriorated over the past 30 to 40 years and this deterioration is due to the changing nature of the economy, the rising dependence of families on the community for support, and the “…increasing nastiness of the culture in which children live” (p. X). In addition to these alarming statistics, approximately 43% of children are born with some form of a learning or developmental difficulty that tends to evolve into multiple barriers over time (U.S.

Department of Education, 1993).



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