In a February survey of 1,238 Gunn freshmen, sophomores and juniors, students expressed greater trust than they did a year ago in their counselor's advice in the area of academics, classes and schedules.
They also expressed improved comfort levels about approaching an adult at school should they be struggling with personal issues.
In other areas, precise comparisons were difficult because this year's survey questions were not exactly the same as last year's. Assistant Principal Tom Jacoubowsky said some survey items were reworded to answer the questions of current staff but that the questions "have the same spirit."
Critics have argued for Gunn to adopt counseling structure similar to that at Palo Alto High School, which uses 46 "teacher advisers" to augment a small counseling staff. Gunn uses a more traditional model, relying on professional counselors.
A recent advisory committee on Gunn counseling reforms did not suggest a teacher-advisory model per se but included 40 recommendations that — if fully implemented — would lead to more assured student contact with adults at the school, members said.
Gunn officials said it will take three years to completely implement the plan and may require a change to the school's daily "bell schedule." Members of the Board of Education have asked Gunn to submit a detailed implementation timetable.
Of the new counseling survey questions that were clearly aligned with last year's, Gunn students expressed greater trust in their guidance counselor's advice in the area of academics, classes and schedules.
They also indicated improved comfort levels about approaching an adult at school for help with personal issues.
For example, 11th-graders who "agreed or strongly agreed" with the statement "I trust my counselor to help me if I'm struggling academically" went from 57 percent in 2012 to 71 percent in the new survey.
For ninth-graders the number went from 54 in 2012 percent to 82 in 2013 percent and for 10th-graders it went from 61 percent in 2012 to 78 percent this year.
Jacoubowsky said seniors were not included in the new survey because it was administered during course-selection periods for 2013-14, which seniors do not attend.
On the statement, "I trust the advice my counselor gives me about academic classes and schedules," ninth-graders who agreed or strongly agreed went from 61 percent in 2012 to 90 percent in 2013; 10th graders went from 72 percent last year to 87 percent this year; and 11th graders went from 73 percent in 2012 to 79 percent in 2013.
On personal issues, the wording of the question changed, but students appeared to feel better about approaching an adult on campus if they were struggling.
Last year, students were asked how much they agreed with the statement: "I feel comfortable going to my guidance counselor about personal issues that I might be struggling with." This year, the question changed to "I feel comfortable going to an adult at Gunn about personal issues that I might be struggling with."
The percentage of ninth-graders who agreed or strongly agreed went from 32 percent last year to 56 percent this year; 10th-graders went from 32 percent last year to 52 percent this year and 11th-graders went from 26 percent last year to 49 percent this year.
Jacoubowsky said it was "hard to say" why students appeared to be more satisfied this year.
"It just might be that we're getting the word out better — people have more awareness," he said. "And our website is much improved."
Jacoubowsky now emails weekly updates from the counseling office to the Gunn community. And a new counseling position added this year "helped tremendously" as did a new member of the support staff, he said.
He said that the school is offering more counseling activities to sophomores in groups and has improved its "Titan 101" high school transition program for freshmen.