Report: Indiana school counseling not meeting needs of students

By: NewsCenter 16 Email
By: NewsCenter 16 Email

INDIANAPOLIS A new report commissioned by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation finds that school counselors are not able to meet the range of postsecondary needs of students, due in large part to a stagnant system and a variety of situations often out of their control.

“What we have is a counseling issue, not an issue with the counselors,” explains Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “In fact, the vast majority of counselors in the survey said they would like to spend more time providing college and career guidance.”

A total of 426 Indiana school counselors – 73% of them from high schools – were surveyed for the Indiana School Counseling Research Review.

According to the survey, 58% of respondents said that a quarter or less of their time is spent on college and career readiness activities; that number jumps to 90% of counselors when the timeframe for college/career readiness duties is placed at 50% or less.

Fewer than 10% of counselors said they spent more than half their time in this key role.

The Indiana Chamber report shows that just since 2010 the amount of time counselors are asked to devote to these non-counseling duties has more than doubled.

In 2010, 18% of a counselor’s time was spent away from direct service to students; in 2013 it was 40%.

“These other activities might include being the hall monitor, administering tests or even managing the school mascot,” Redelman states. “The bottom line is that a school counselor’s job duties include a growing catch-all list of non-related activities that takes them from their primary function. And that needs to be addressed. … Being unable to more frequently do their essential job is the number one thing we heard about from counselors.”

Another factor at play, the report concludes, is that counselor education programs are not providing sufficient preparation in college and career counseling.

“This means counselors don’t have all the information. This and the time factor speak to the larger issue of getting the needed information to students,” Redelman begins. “The report suggests a delivery model that would expand what professionals within a building share postsecondary information with students. We’re advocating for a more team approach to help bridge the gap.”

Other key observations in the Indiana School Counseling Research Review:

• The accusation of too much focus on four-year degree options instead of all postsecondary options is confirmed
• The accountability system is a driver of the problem but can also be part of the solution
• Overall challenges are too extensive to address through counselors alone. There is a clear need to engage teachers, school administrators and parents

“As policymakers, we are increasingly focused on the need for students to be college and career ready,” says Teresa Lubbers, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education. “The problem is that too many students and families still don’t know what that means. This report highlights the need to redesign the counseling model, freeing counselors to focus more on readiness responsibilities rather than administrative tasks.”

The above information was supplied by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.


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