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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Needed Guidance Counselors, do not apply

My school has four guidance counselors for 2000 plus kids. -cpg

From the Washington Posts Answer Sheet

By Valerie Strauss

Look at these statistics on the number of students that counselors in American public schools are expected to help:

Though the recommended number per counselor is 250 students, the American School Counselor Associations shows that the national average is actually one counselor for every 457 students. And those figures were from 2008-09, the latest available, but before many states slashed school budgets last year.

Some states have much higher ratios than the national average, including Arizona, the home state of Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old charged with killing 6 and wounding 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

In 2008-09, there were in Arizona’s public schools on average 743 students for each counselor, the third biggest gap. California had the largest gap: 814 students per student. Coming in second was Minnesota, with 759 students per counselor.

Five states met the recommended ratio: Louisiana, 238 students per counselor; Mississippi, 234 students per counselor; New Hampshire, 233 students per counselor; Vermont, 207 students per counselor; Wyoming, 197 students per counselor.

But the news gets worse: According to a study published last year, at least one in five young children in the United States has some mental disorder, but fewer than half of the states require public elementary schools to hire mental health professionals.

The study, conducted by Assistant Professor Randall Reback of Barnard College and Columbia University, showed:

*Students in states with more aggressive elementary counseling policies make greater test score gains.

*Elementary counselors substantially influence teachers’ perceptions of school climate.

*The adoption of state-funded counselor subsidies or minimum counselor–student ratios reduces the number of teachers who report losing instruction time because they have to deal with student misbehavior. And there is a decline in the number of teachers who report problems with students who are physically fighting, skipping class, stealing or using drugs.

The results imply that there may be substantial public and private benefits derived from providing additional elementary school counselors. The study, titled “Schools’ Mental Heath Services and Young Children’s Emotions, Behavior, and Learning,” was published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

It's too bad that mental health issues often get their closest attention when it is too late.

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