Hiring school guidance counselors can help teachers and students thrive

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Providing school services that benefit teachers and students is more important than ever—and can improve both teacher retention rates and student outcomes. In fact, a recent study revealed that some teachers find having more supports for their students—including full-time school counselors—to be more appealing than a 10% salary increase for themselves.

To provide some context, 80% of public schools413 have at least one part- or full-time guidance counselor. However, each counselor is responsible, on average, for nearly 400 students.414 This high case load has the potential to lead to burnout, as the recommended student-to-school counselor ratio is 250:1.415 A 2019 American School Counselor Association study in Indiana416 found this recommended student-to-school counselor ratio is associated with higher student SAT scores and attendance rates.

The same 2019 research417 found that school districts in Connecticut with guidance counselors in elementary schools reported increased school attendance, lower rates of suspension, and higher graduation rates than those without elementary guidance counselors, further demonstrating the positive relationship between guidance counselors and student outcomes.

Additionally, guidance counselors can relieve teachers of some non-instructional burdens, giving teachers more time to focus on instruction. This can contribute to an improved quality of school life for teachers, which has been shown to be a key factor in teacher success and retention rates. By investing in more counselors and helping shape a school environment that allows teachers to be more effective and students to excel, district leaders can set the stage for building and sustaining a stronger teacher workforce.