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Counselors in Indiana Want More College- and Career-Prep Time with Students

The majority of school counselors in Indiana school want more time with students to help prepare them for college and careers, according to a recent report released by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Researchers surveyed 426 Indiana counselors, three-quarters of them from high schools, on how they spent their time and found little had changed since a similar 1994 study.

In a typical school year, 43 percent of school counselors reported spending between 10 and 25 percent of their time on college and career readiness activities; another one-third said they spend between 26 and 50 percent.  About 80 percent of counselor agree or strongly agree that they would like to spend more time helping students with college and career readiness.

Counselors are pulled in too many directions to devote adequate energy to college and career guidance, the report finds. The amount of time counselors spend on non-counseling duties (hall monitor or administering tests) has more than doubled in recent years—from 18 percent in 2010 to 40 percent in 2013. That means time for college and career counseling has dropped from 32 percent to 21 percent in the same time frame.

Confounding the time crunch is often an information void. The report notes that counselor training programs are not adequate preparing professionals for college and career counseling. Professional organizations have called for improved training for counselors on these issues.

The researchers suggest that the challenge is too extensive for counselors to handle alone and that more support is needed from teachers, school administrators, and parents. Counselors should spend less time on administrative tasks and more on direct service to students, the report concludes. Education Trust also has released recommendations that counselors be allowed to focus more on student counseling.

For many years, Indiana has had the seventh highest school counselor to student ratio ranking 44th out of the 50 states with an average of one school counselor to 620 students, according to the report. The American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of one school counselor to 250 students.

The Indiana Chamber formed an advisory group, comprised of school counselors, principals, superintendents, community college partners, youth organizations and government agencies, to provide feedback on programs and policies that are most effective. The chamber is considering developing a marketing campaign around career and college readiness, recognizing successful high school counseling programs, sponsoring employer tours for students and educators, and assisting with data sharing on workforce training needs.

The chamber commissioned the The Indiana School Counseling Research Review as part of its research for a state economic development plan, Indiana Vision 2025. As part of its effort to boost college completion, chamber officials said counseling was a key component and, therefore, wanted feedback from counselors on their efforts.

 

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