Simplified: Sioux Falls School Board members on Monday unanimously approved the adoption of a new K-12 counseling curriculum.

Why it matters

  • It's the first full-scale review of the counseling curriculum since 2001, said Patti Lake-Torbert, senior coordinator of student support services.
  • The new comprehensive curriculum is focused on data and consistency. Whichever building in the district a student may move to, they'll see the same "non-negotiables" in the curriculum, Lake-Torbert added.
  • The challenge in maintaining that consistency, though, is the already heavy workload of school counselors.
"We have been putting out a lot of fires and helping with a lot of behaviors," Lake-Torbert told board members. "When additional help is needed, it's the school counselors that’ll be called to come in."

How did we get here?

The district created a 23-member steering committee to review the counseling curriculum.

  • That committee – made up of parents, administrators, counselors and community members – met starting in October 2020 and throughout 2021 and the start of 2022.

The district also contracted with a company called Hatching Results, which provided training for Sioux Falls school counselors.

What will students learn?

It varies by grade level.

Elementary students will focus on "core competencies" like self-awareness, responsible decision making and self-management.

At the middle and high schools, counselors will focus more on career counseling.

  • Middle schoolers will also see units on bullying, goal-setting, decision-making and managing relationships.
  • High schoolers will have a two-week suicide prevention awareness campaign, along with some guidance on preparing for life after high school and career counseling.

What will the new curriculum cost?

Just over $131,000.

  • That includes curriculum materials and the $20,000 contract with Hatching Results.

What happens next?

The curriculum will be implemented in the 2022-23 school year.