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Schools are adding counselors, but experts say more are needed

Elementary school pupils running outside
Posted at 11:20 AM, Jan 09, 2023

New information shows the number of counselors in K-12 schools is increasing but it's still nowhere near where industry experts say it needs to be.

In the 2021-22 school year, there were 408 students for each counselor. That's the best it's been since the American School Counselor Association started tracking it in 1986.

However, they recommend 250 to 1.

That's because counselors today address a wide variety of things, including academics, discipline and mental health.

”This work is done through classroom instructions, small group work, one on one advisement,” said Jill Cook, assistant director of the American School Counselor Association. “So individual counseling, working with school staff and families, it's really a comprehensive approach to working with all students

She says over time, funding has been an obstacle to getting more counselors in schools.

But more recently, the profession has faced the same problem many others have - not enough people to fill open positions.

”We know from education as a whole, that some individuals have chosen to leave the field and leave the profession because it's been very stressful,” said Cook.

She says to close the gap, it's important states do not see this as an opportunity to cut funding for school counselors.

”Knowing that school counselors do address the whole student, the whole child, and are there to specifically ensure that there are systems in place so that all kids have the opportunity to be successful,” Cook said. “And so why wouldn't you want these professionals in school?”