An overview of the history, evolution, and current status of comprehensive school guidance programs in the United States is presented. Speciﬁc emphasis is given to the important and central roles that career development concepts and practices have within these programs in the elementary, middle, and high schools of the United States. Possible implications for international career guidance leaders and practitioners are provided.
•Guidance counseling dates back to as early as 1907.
Jesse Davis implemented the first guidance counseling program at Center High School in Detroit, Michigan. Guidance counseling experienced a rise in popularity in the years leading up to the Great Depression as educators focused on teaching students in a progressive environment.
To understand the current status of comprehensive guidance programs in the schools of the United States and the roles that career development concepts and practices have played in shaping these programs, it is necessary to understand how these programs evolved. Thus, the ﬁrst section of this paper focuses on the evolution of guidance in schools. The inﬂuence of federal legislation and social and economic change are described. The second section of the paper presents the current status of comprehensive guidance programs today. It describes the important and central roles that career development concepts and practices have within these programs in the schools of the United States. The third and ﬁnal section describes what was learned from the eﬀorts to develop and implement comprehensive guidance programs with an emphasis on career guidance in the schools of the United States that maybe of interest to leaders, policy makers, and practitioners in the international career guidance community.
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The evolution of guidance in the schools of the United States as it is known today occurred at the beginning of the 1900s. It was called vocational guidance then (Parsons, 1909), and was seen as a response to the economic, educational, and social problems of those times. Economic concerns focused on the need to better prepare workers for the workplace while educational concerns arose from a need to increase eﬀorts in schools to help students ﬁnd purpose for their education as well as for their employment. Social concerns emphasized the need for changing school methods and organization as well as exerting more control over conditions of labor in child-employing industries (United States Bureau of Education, 1914).
In 1910 Charles W. Eliot, President Emeritus of Harvard University, delivered an address to the National Education Association titled ‘‘The Value During Education of the Life-Career Motive’’. In the opening paragraph of his address, Elliot emphasized prevailing concerns about students and the educational system of the day when he stated:
…multitudes of American children, taking no interest in their school work or see no connection between their studies and the means of later earning of a good livelihood, drop out of school far too early of their own accord, or at least offer no effective resistance to the desire of unwise parents that they stop studying and go to work.
Eliot felt that if students were to be successful they needed purpose and direction in their lives; they needed ‘‘…the motive of the life-career’’ . From the late teens and early 1920s on, however, there was less emphasis on guidance for vocation (vocational guidance) and more on education as guidance (educational guidance).
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This shift in emphasis in the purpose of guidance occurred partly because of newer leadership, particularly on the part of people such as John Brewer, who were more educationally oriented. In the late teens, John Brewer (1918) – deﬁned educational guidance ‘‘as a conscious eﬀort to assist in the intellectual growth of an individual. .