According to the New York Times article below, the ratio of school counselors to students, particularly at public high schools, continues to increase in part because of the influx of students applying to college. Nearly half of public schools have raised the caseloads of high school counselors this year, compared with last year, with the average increase exceeding 53 students, according to a study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. While the core role of many counselors is helping students through the college admissions process, an equally if not more challenging task is helping at-risk students stay in school. Another report published in 2005 by the Educational Testing Service titled, One-Third of a Nation: Rising Dropout Rates and Declining Opportunities, documents, “On average, only one certified counselor is available for each 500 students in all schools, and one counselor to 285 students in high schools. “And they have many assignments that leave little time to spend with students at risk of dropping out.”
While the role of guidance counseling has largely been ignored in the education reform movement of the past two decades, that trend is beginning to change. Increasingly, counselors are driving student success and transition programs in districts and schools across the country, which is one of the antidotes to stemming our nation’s high school drop out rate. In my work with counselors, I see a commitment to managing their divergent demands and growing their role as school leaders. The president-elect for Florida’s School Counselor Association, Karalia Baldwin, had this to say: “School counselors must seem themselves as leaders of their programs, advocates for counseling, for students, and representatives of the profession, as they are an integral part of student learning.” Former president of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), Dr. Judy Bowers, says, “It is critical that school counselors move beyond their current roles as helper-responders in order to become proactive leaders and advocates for the success of all students.”
LifeBound’s curriculum is coordinated to the national ASCA model, and is being implemented in Advisory and other programs by counselors who are in a unique position to be agents of change. At LifeBound, one of our objectives is to support school counselors in their role as leaders, and here are questions we ask of ourselves and others at the forefront of education reform:
How can we prepare school counselors to become action-oriented, critical thinkers and champions of change? One way we do this at LifeBound is through academic coaches training, and counselors from across the country who have attended this training have been promoted in their schools and districts.
How can we help counselors integrate student success and transition programs that positively impact school attendance, test scores, grades and behavior?
How can counselors lead the way with parents and coach them on modeling behaviors at home, such as turning off the TV and initiating conversations about the value of an education, that we know impact at-risk students?
By JACQUES STEINBERG
The struggling economy has taken a toll on those directly responsible for advising students about the college admission process. Nearly half of public schools have raised the caseloads of high school counselors this year, compared with last year, with the average increase exceeding 53 students, according to a study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
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