Whereas trainer staffing and perceived shortages has turn into a sizzling button subject, much less consideration has been devoted to a different consequential staffing problem in U.S. colleges: faculty counselors. Regardless of the significance of faculty counselors, counselor staffing usually lags optimum ranges to adequately help scholar wants. College counselors usually handle massive caseloads of scholars, particularly at colleges that serve predominantly low-income and Black college students, whereas taking over a wider vary of tasks than “steering” counselors of the previous. The COVID-19 pandemic solely exacerbated the ever-expanding duties of faculty counselors, as they play a key function supporting college students via pandemic-related trauma.
On this put up, we evaluate the state of faculty counselor staffing, proof on counselor staffing on scholar outcomes, and the implementation of insurance policies geared toward decreasing counselor caseloads. We shut by contemplating who faculty counselors are–and the implications for scholar outcomes.
Analysis exhibits counselors positively have an effect on scholar outcomes
A rising consensus factors to constant constructive impacts of faculty counseling applications, and particularly the constructive impacts of accelerating counselor staffing, on elementary-aged youngsters’s behavioral and educational outcomes. A nascent physique of labor additionally finds constructive results of faculty counselors on secondary scholar outcomes. One research discovered that when states mandate that colleges rent an extra highschool counselor, the share of scholars going to a four-year school will increase by 10 proportion factors. Different analysis, leveraging the quasi-random project of scholars to counselors based mostly on final title, finds that being assigned to the next value-add faculty counselor will increase the probability of scholars graduating highschool and enrolling in school by about two proportion factors, with bigger results for low-achieving and low-income college students. A latest evaluation by the Division of Training mirrors these research, discovering college students who met with their faculty counselor in highschool had been more likely to use for and obtain monetary help, with an particularly sturdy relationship for college students whose dad and mom didn’t attend school.
The panorama of state faculty counselor staffing insurance policies
Regardless of a rising analysis consensus that counselors matter, we nonetheless know comparatively little concerning the distribution of counseling throughout colleges and college students, and what insurance policies drive college students’ entry to high quality counselors. To look at the nationwide highschool counselor panorama, we leverage the 2017-18 Civil Rights Knowledge Assortment and knowledge from the American College Counselor Affiliation (ACSA) on state counselor staffing insurance policies to stipulate the panorama of counselor insurance policies in concept and in apply.
There are a number of state insurance policies that concentrate on counselor entry. In line with knowledge from the American College Counselor Affiliation, 23 states mandate faculty counseling in elementary colleges whereas 30 states mandate counseling for secondary faculty college students. One other 19 states goal a particular student-to-counselor ratio–for instance, Oklahoma mandates that colleges make use of one counselor for each 450 secondary faculty college students. As illustrated in Determine 1, the prevalence of those insurance policies varies by area. States within the South usually tend to have insurance policies mandating faculty counselor staffing, although colleges within the Northeast are inclined to mandate the smallest ratios. The modal ratio is a 300:1 ratio, although states set goal counselor caseloads from 250 college students to 500 college students per counselor.
We then examined how these insurance policies–and the regional patterns noticed in state insurance policies–relate to precise counseling charges. First, as displayed in Determine 2, we observe that throughout the nation, practically all excessive colleges have not less than some counseling out there. General, 92% of excessive colleges in our pattern have some counseling. We additionally noticed substantial regional variation. Fewer colleges have a full-time counselor (or full-time equal), starting from 86% of excessive colleges within the West to 96% of faculties within the Northeast. Far fewer colleges meet the ASCA suggestion of a 250:1 student-counselor ratio–whereas 66% of excessive colleges within the Northeast keep a 250:1 or decrease student-counselor ratio, solely 22% of faculties within the South, 27% of faculties within the West, and 32% of faculties within the Midwest meet or exceed the ASCA commonplace. Throughout areas, the typical secondary faculty student-counselor ratio is considerably increased than the ASCA commonplace (roughly 320:1).
The implementation of counselor staffing insurance policies
It’s one factor for a state to mandate a sure student-counselor ratio, however how do these insurance policies relate to counseling ranges? In Determine 3, we present that top colleges in states with obligatory counselor-student ratio insurance policies have considerably decrease student-counselor ratios than states inside the area with out mandated ratio insurance policies in place. For instance, within the West, counselors in states that mandate a student-counselor ratio have a median of 100 fewer college students of their caseload.
College counselors in apply: Counselor workload and demographics
Even when colleges adjust to state insurance policies, how they accomplish that possible issues, too. Right here, we use a wealthy publicly out there dataset of Oklahoma faculty staffing knowledge merged with CRDC knowledge to look at counselor traits. Solely 67% of counselors within the state work full time in a single faculty. Different counselors both cut up their time throughout a number of colleges or throughout a number of jobs; we discover 10% of counselors are additionally lecturers, and 22% of all counselors are assigned to a number of colleges (usually to each a highschool and center faculty or highschool and elementary faculty within the district). In some severely understaffed rural colleges in Oklahoma, counselors report taking over a number of jobs, together with even superintendent and cafeteria employee. Even when colleges meet a state FTE requirement, they could accomplish that by piecing collectively time from present workers, probably spreading faculty help workers too skinny to sufficiently serve all college students.
We additionally discover massive gaps between highschool scholar and counselor race. Quite a few research in training and public administration present that racial illustration in positions of authority and mentorship profit college students however that lecturers and principals hardly ever replicate the demographics of the scholars they serve. Right here we discover the identical for counselors. In Determine 4 we present that on common 16% of Oklahoma excessive schoolers are American Indian/Native, relative to five% of Oklahoma counselors. Whereas about 15% of Oklahoma highschool college students are Hispanic, lower than 1% of counselors are. Nationally, 76% of ASCA members are white in contrast with 51% of school-aged youngsters, whereas 6% of ASCA counselors are Hispanic in contrast with 25% of school-aged youngsters; whereas there are fewer Black counselors than college students, the hole is smaller, with Black counselors comprising 11% of the career relative to Black college students representing 14% of the school-aged inhabitants.
Who counselors are and the way they view their function has essential implications for scholar outcomes. Counselors aren’t immune from bias discovered throughout faculty professionals and society, with one experiment discovering counselors had been much less more likely to suggest Black feminine college students for superior math programs even relative to scholar profiles with weaker educational and behavioral information. One other experiment discovered related patterns–counselors had been much less more likely to suggest a scholar with low educational preparation pursue neighborhood school if that scholar was recognized as Black. One other evaluation of faculty counselors in Oklahoma discovered counselors different in whether or not they perceived their function as “faculty help official” or “compliance officer”–and that counselors who seen their function as support-oriented had been extra more likely to meet with dad and mom and proactively inform college students of scholarship eligibility.
As we present, many states implement insurance policies focusing on counselor staffing ranges, and states which have made that dedication are inclined to have decrease counselor caseloads. However including extra counselors is probably going obligatory however not adequate. Investments in elevated staffing ought to be paired with evidence-based skilled improvement and a dedication to hiring extra full-time counselors to make sure counselors have the instruments and capability essential to help all college students as they navigate highschool and past.
Methodological notes: Civil Rights Knowledge Assortment 2017-2018 administration analyses carried out by authors utilizing publicly out there school-level recordsdata. Evaluation restricted to varsities enrolling ninth grade college students, and doesn’t embrace juvenile justice services, magnet colleges, constitution colleges, special-education colleges, or various colleges (whole pattern is 16,978 colleges). State coverage analyses carried out by authors utilizing publicly out there reviews from the American College Counselor Affiliation (ASCA). Oklahoma staffing analyses carried out by authors utilizing publicly out there individual-level recordsdata, merged with CRDC knowledge (whole pattern is 300 colleges).