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More school counselors needed now and in the future, in NC and nationwide

This week, Feb. 5-9, 2024, is National School Counseling Week 2024.

Sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), the association says the week serves “to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems” and “highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.”

“School counselors work with all students to remove barriers to learning by addressing students’ academic concerns, career options, and social/emotional skills,” said Jill Cook, executive director of ASCA. “School counseling programs help to increase student achievement and provide a much-needed resource for students, parents, teachers, and administrators.’

“School counselors are integral to student success.”

— Jill Cook, Executive Director, ASCA

The U.S. Department of Education tweeted, “School counselors aren’t guidance counselors — they’re mental health supports, student advocates, parent liaisons, mentors, & so much more.”

Even Michelle Obama weighed in. “In a world where it is too easy for our young people to question their place or feel like their on the margins, your guidance is often the difference that helps them get through,” said the former First Lady.

The ratios

In 2022-23, there were 128,693 school counselors nationwide.

The ACSA recommends a ratio of 250 students: 1 counselor. In 2022-23, there were 4,497 counselors in North Carolina for a ratio of 343:1. Here you can see the ratios by state.

Lifting up Latinx school counselors

Throughout the week, LatinxEd, an organization that invests in Latinx leadership to advance educational equity and opportunity in North Carolina, celebrated Latinx school counselors.

Additional resources for advocates

Here is ASCA’s brief history on school counselors. “At least for the near future, students and their parents in school districts across the country will continue to benefit from having fully implemented school counseling programs,” it concludes.

And here is a 2019 report by EdTrust, titled “School counselors matter.” It finds, “research links the student-to-school-counselor ratios that meet the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommendation in high-poverty schools to better academic outcomes for students, such as improved attendance, fewer disciplinary incidents, and higher graduation rates.” The report provides guidance on advocacy for both more school counselors and equitable access to school counselors.

To all of our school counselors, thank you

A good reminder for all of us, this ASCA chart delineates appropriate and inappropriate roles for school counselors.

You can see all the tweets from the week at #NSCW24.

To all of our school counselors across North Carolina, thank you.

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.