As much as people would like to believe, many, in fact, do not know the full extent of the responsibilities (as well as the impact each has on students) exhibited by high school counselors. Ask any parent and you will find that at least eight out of every 10 of them will just restrict them to the assistance they provide to students in dealing with everyday issues at school and home.
While does that account for at least one of the duties of a high school counselor, it barely scratches the surface. High school counselors have a range of jobs designed to not only help students get through school but also assist them in building a prosperous and sustainable future for themselves.
Not only that but, according to Peggy Hines, Director of the Education Trust’s National Center for Transforming School Counseling, the role of the school counselor is to even direct educational institutes in order to ensure the development of its students in the best manner possible. “School counselors are leaders and advocates, who use data to help the school figure out where, really and truly, they need to focus their school reform efforts and school improvement projects,” says Hines. Many school counselors around the United States have now begun to realise the impact their efforts can have on education and development of students and have, therefore, begun to go the extra mile in order to achieve that goal.
According to a report released by the College Board, a non-profit organization that administers the SAT college entrance exam and oversees the AP program, several schools have integrated a variety of practices and frameworks that have encouraged students to equip themselves with the knowledge and skills needed to get ahead in their academic and professional careers. William M. Raines High School in Florida, for example, has doubled the number of students taking AP exams between 2006 and 2010, largely due to the efforts made by counselors.
Chicago Public Schools has helped boost college enrolment rates for its students from 44% in 2004 to 60% in 2011, all thanks to a retooled counseling model that underscored the significance of gathering data such as school attendance rates, AP enrolment, SAT scores and the completion of college application procedures so that proper action plans could be drafted to suit the needs of each district.
In spite of such advancements, however, there are still a number of schools that continue to unnecessarily complicate the roles of guidance counselors in such institutions by having them perform tasks that do not even compliment their skills and experience. According to the report, nearly 60% of school counselors have said that the coordination of tests on an annual basis also falls under their responsibility along with the occasional fundraiser and party committee. “School counselors are required to have a Master’s degree, teachers are not,” says Pat Martin, Assistant Vice President of College Board’s National Office for School Counselor Advocacy. “To assign the kinds of clerical, low-level duties that school counselors are doing across the country is a terrible underutilization of a really, really critical force of people that could be redeployed to do meaningful things for students.”
By putting greater emphasis on research to figure out the current status of variables that determine the performance of students throughout the year and by using that information to help improve students’ capabilities, counselors can help make much greater impact on high school education.