Archive for August 26th, 2016

How Much Do K-12 School Counselors Help Students

August 26th, 2016

BY DANIKA McCLURE

High school graduation rates have been on a steady incline for the past few years. The latest national data highlights that 82 percent of high school seniors in the 2013-14 year graduated, up a full percentage point from the previous year. These statistics are impressive, especially given that the biggest national gains in graduation rates have come from at-risk students of color.

Still, while high school graduation rates have risen over the past few years, recently released numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center suggest that college enrollment rates have continued to decrease–despite increases in federal aid that aim to help students who can’t afford tuition. Recent studies suggest that by simply decreasing the student-to-counselor ratio in schools, this trend can be reversed.

The importance of the counselor in K-12 education cannot be overstated. School counselors complement the work that teachers do in the classroom in order to help students best prepare for a successful college career, while also performing a number of other tasks, including helping students manage their mental health, and helping students deal with personal issues like cancer or even death.  

Although educators agree that school counselors play a crucial role in the K-12 system, counselors have become somewhat of a limited commodity on high school campuses. Education budget cuts across the country have forced many schools to increase the student-to-counselor ratio, making the national average nearly double the recommended 250-1 ratio put forth by the American School Counselor Association.

 

But this is a trend that ought not be taken lightly, as studies performed by the College Board Advocacy Center suggest college application rates and the school-to-counselor ratio strongly correlate, leading experts to believe that access to school counselors in high school increases college enrollment.

 

Analyzing data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) Schools and Staffing Survey, the College Board Advocacy Center was able to look at student-to-counseling ratio trends over three different school years. They then focused specifically on the 12 states across the country who mandate maximum student-to-counselor ratios at the high school level.

 

The study found that high schools in Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Oklahoma hired counselors at a ratio of 450-1, a rate which is on par with the national average. Although mandating the number of counselors per student seems like a fine idea on paper, in practice, the process is complicated.

“The intuition behind the methodology is that, on average, high schools with 449 students are essentially identical to high schools with 451 students, except that the latter schools have twice as many school counselors (and a ratio of 451 to 2 i.e. 225.5 students per counselor rather than 449 students per counselor),” the study notes.

Comparing the data, the CBAC found that the rate of college going students at schools with a smaller student-to-counselor ratio increased by ten percentage points, therefore implying that students benefit from the hiring of at least one additional counselor.

These are significant findings, especially when you consider that there has been little research about the affects that school counselors have on the student populations they serve. It also reaffirms the necessity of additional support for high school students to encourage college enrollment.

The addition of extra counselors in benefits both students and counselors alike, allowing  students the flexibility to meet with a counselor who can best meet their individual needs, and provides counselors the opportunity to reach out to gifted students who otherwise may have opted out of college altogether.

Though more research is necessary in determining the best way to encourage students to attend college, it’s clear that high school counselors play an important role, especially with potential first generation college students. Today’s economy dictates that it is now more important than ever for students to obtain advanced degrees, districts across the country should be encouraged to consider hiring staff capable of supporting students throughout the higher admissions process.

 

High school graduation rates have been on a steady incline for the past few years. The latest national data highlights that 82 percent of high school seniors in the 2013-14 year graduated, up a full percentage point from the previous year. These statistics are impressive, especially given that the biggest national gains in graduation rates have come from at-risk students of color.

Still, while high school graduation rates have risen over the past few years, recently released numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center suggest that college enrollment rates have continued to decrease–despite increases in federal aid that aim to help students who can’t afford tuition. Recent studies suggest that by simply decreasing the student-to-counselor ratio in schools, this trend can be reversed.

The importance of the counselor in K-12 education cannot be overstated. School counselors complement the work that teachers do in the classroom in order to help students best prepare for a successful college career, while also performing a number of other tasks, including helping students manage their mental health, and helping students deal with personal issues like cancer or even death.  

Although educators agree that school counselors play a crucial role in the K-12 system, counselors have become somewhat of a limited commodity on high school campuses. Education budget cuts across the country have forced many schools to increase the student-to-counselor ratio, making the national average nearly double the recommended 250-1 ratio put forth by the American School Counselor Association.

But this is a trend that ought not be taken lightly, as studies performed by the College Board Advocacy Center suggest college application rates and the school-to-counselor ratio strongly correlate, leading experts to believe that access to school counselors in high school increases college enrollment.

Analyzing data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) Schools and Staffing Survey, the College Board Advocacy Center was able to look at student-to-counseling ratio trends over three different school years. They then focused specifically on the 12 states across the country who mandate maximum student-to-counselor ratios at the high school level.

The study found that high schools in Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Oklahoma hired counselors at a ratio of 450-1, a rate which is on par with the national average. Although mandating the number of counselors per student seems like a fine idea on paper, in practice, the process is complicated.

“The intuition behind the methodology is that, on average, high schools with 449 students are essentially identical to high schools with 451 students, except that the latter schools have twice as many school counselors (and a ratio of 451 to 2 i.e. 225.5 students per counselor rather than 449 students per counselor),” the study notes.

Comparing the data, the CBAC found that the rate of college going students at schools with a smaller student-to-counselor ratio increased by ten percentage points, therefore implying that students benefit from the hiring of at least one additional counselor.

These are significant findings, especially when you consider that there has been little research about the affects that school counselors have on the student populations they serve. It also reaffirms the necessity of additional support for high school students to encourage college enrollment.

The addition of extra counselors in benefits both students and counselors alike, allowing  students the flexibility to meet with a counselor who can best meet their individual needs, and provides counselors the opportunity to reach out to gifted students who otherwise may have opted out of college altogether.

Though more research is necessary in determining the best way to encourage students to attend college, it’s clear that high school counselors play an important role, especially with potential first generation college students. Today’s economy dictates that it is now more important than ever for students to obtain advanced degrees, districts across the country should be encouraged to consider hiring staff capable of supporting students throughout the higher admissions process.

Danika McClure is a writer and musician from the northwest who sometimes takes a 30 minute break from feminism to enjoy a tv show. You can follow her on twitter @sadwhitegrrl