From Education Week online
Middle and high school counselors believe they have a unique and powerful role to play in preparing all students for good jobs or college, but they feel hamstrung by insufficient training, competing duties, and their own schools’ priorities, according to a study released today.
The online survey of 5,300 counselors was conducted this past spring for the College Board’s Advocacy & Policy Center. One of the largest-ever surveys of counselors, it paints a picture of a committed but frustrated corps that sees a deep schism between the ideal mission of schools and the work that takes shape day to day.
Nine in 10 counselors, for instance, said that two objectives should top their schools’ priority lists: ensuring that all students have access to high-quality education and that they graduate well-equipped for college and careers. But fewer than four in 10 said their schools actually operated as if those goals were central to their mission.
That disconnection was even sharper among counselors in public and low-income schools than in private and wealthier ones. Only 19 percent of counselors in high-poverty schools said college and career readiness was part of their schools’ day-to-day mission, compared with 30 percent of counselors overall. Two-thirds of those in private schools said so, compared with one-quarter of those in public schools.
“We have more than 100,000 counselors in our [school] system, and yet they’re not being strategically deployed,” said John Bridgeland, the lead author of the report and the president and chief executive officer of Civic Enterprises, a Washington-based public-policy group that includes high school improvement among its focus issues.
“Counselors are uniquely positioned to see the whole life of the child; to see their family circumstances ... their social and emotional needs, the nonacademic supports they may require, and their academic progress and challenge, not just in a given year, like a teacher can, but over time,” he said. “That’s an advantage that’s extremely powerful. Not deploying counselors in a way that takes advantage of that unique role is a huge national loss.”
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