a meeting, answer hundreds of emails, and I can go on. At the high
school level, counselors are also the college counselor, writing
hundreds of college recommendations, assisting a student in putting
together a list of best fit schools, filling out college forms, sending
transcripts, and recommending and assisting students with financial
aid and scholarships. We spend many of our days doing drive by
counseling, unable to do the intentional, comprehensive work that
we are trained to do because of the sheer numbers of our caseload
and because of the overwhelming needs of our students.
Recent studies show that 1 in 4 people struggle with some sort
of mental health issue. Graduation requirements continue to change,
sometimes yearly. We have more students with greater needs every
year. Our task list gets longer and our student’s needs are not able to
be met, which is our ethical responsibility. We all have the passion
and the heart to provide equitable resources for all of our students,
but because of the nature of the job and the cavernous needs of our
student populations, we are no longer able to do so. The only viable
option for us to do WHAT’S BEST FOR STUDENTS, is to lower
counselor caseloads to 250:1. It’s what’s best for them and it’s
what’s best for all of us.
Karla Allen is the Coordinator of Counseling Services for Hanover
County Public Schools. She also serves as the Vice President Elect
for Supervisors for the Virginia School Counselor Association and
is an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the
Counselor Education graduate program. She is an active member
of the American School Counselor Association, the National
Association of College Admission Counseling and the Association
for Career and Technical Education.
180,000 new jobs and $14 billion dollars in new investment under the
leadership of Governor McAuliffe.
The Republican candidates had different remarks concerning the
lagging economy in Virginia and a need for changes in tax reductions
and regulation reforms.
Three of the four Republican candidates for Governor attended
the conference and talked about their personal backgrounds and
emphasized their economic positions.
Mr. Ed Gillespie, a political and business consultant, said that
reforms were needed with Virginia’s tax system and emphasized coal
production and offshore resources opportunities.
Chairman Corey Stewart, of the Prince William Board of
Supervisors, promoted himself as a personal income and business tax
cut candidate. He said that government should support core services
and streamline regulations.
For most of us, when we were in school, we accessed the resources
of our school guidance counselor, whose main focus was to help us
select our classes, make sure we were on track to graduate, and to
talk to us about what we wanted to do after high school. If we wanted
to go to college, they would send a transcript to the college and we
would wait to hear that we got in, and then go along our merry way. I
don’t recall feeling any stress about the college process, or worrying
about what classes I was taking, or even thinking that I may not get
in. I was awarded a full tuition scholarship to the college I attended,
and looking back on it now, I am not sure how that even happened!
Fast forward to 2017. My how times have changed. Students
begin to stress about the college application process as early as middle
school. I have heard comments from 6th graders about community
service opportunities and how they will look on a resume. There are
record numbers of students applying to college with no more seats
added over the years, which has made it even more difficult to get
into a four yearschool.We
add on to that the graduation requirements
of SOL tests, verified credits, a virtual course, a credential exam, a
sequential elective, an academic career plan, First Aid CPR training,
computer literacy and what do you want to be when you grow up
and how will you pay for it? Students on at risk lists are tested and
retested multiple times in SOLs, and now the credential exam is
added to that retest list for those on the standard diploma, which
is usually the same student who is already retesting SOLs. All of
this then results in stress and anxiety and sometimes escalates into
mental health concerns.
Fortunately, the American School Counselor Association and
many counselor graduate school programs have recognized this shift
in the profession, and counselors are now trained in comprehensive
school counseling programs which are data driven and utilize delivery
systems of classroom, small group and individual counseling. School
counselors are also tasked with working with students in the three
domains of career, academics, and personal/social. All current school
counselors are licensed professionals with a minimum of a master’s
degree. With our current state recommendations for caseloads, the
counselor student ratios are: elementary 500:1, middle school 400:1,
high school 350:1. However, with localities under budget constraints
in the past few years, many counselor caseloads are much higher
than that. In a given day a counselor can sit in on an IEP meeting,
hold a parent teacher conference for a failing student, run a 504
meeting and set up accommodations, do a suicide assessment on a
high risk student, make a CPS call, set up resources for a homeless
student, run a small group on test anxiety, help a student with a
career interest inventory, teach a classroom lesson on graduation
requirements, see multiple individual students who have requested
State Senator Frank Wagner emphasized maintenance with
new construction in Virginia’s highways, career education and less
government regulation of business establishments.
Congressman Rob Wittman did not attend the conference but
through a tele-conference appearance stated that there were too much
government regulations. Since then, he has decided to stay in his
present position and not run for governor.
Businessman Denver Riggleman recently announced that he has
initiated an exploratory committee for a possible gubernatorial run in
the June 13 Republican Primary.
Michael E. Belefski is President of CPC CORPORATION, a
Communications and Marketing Firm specializing in Performance
Management Analysis in Business, Law and Political Systems.
From Guidance Counseling to School Counseling:
What’s Best for Students? Counselor Student 250:1 Ratios
By Karla Allen
Hugh A. Joyce
cell: (804) email@example.com
1905 Westmoreland Street
Richmond, VA 23230
fax: (804) 358-4066