Align the mission of counselors with the needs of students
Given America’s high school and college completion crises and accompanying labor market skills gap, counselors should be leaders focused on keeping students on track to graduate high school, ready for college and career. The mission of counselors should be tightly tied to this goal and roles designed to meet it.
Focus counselor’s work on activities that accelerate student success
Administrators, and other supervisors, should focus the work of counselors on activities that support and improve student outcomes, redeploying less expensive, and less highly skilled employees to perform administrative tasks.
Target professional development dollars
The No Child Left Behind Act provides districts with the flexibility and resources to apply professional development and other funds as states and districts see fit. Our survey shows that counselors are eager to receive professional development, and that these training sessions should be targeted at critical levers like college and career readiness, financial aid, and the use of technology to promote these goals.
Schools should pilot test measures of accountability
With the importance of accountability and the support among counselors for measures of effectiveness that relate to their mission and their unique role in boosting student success, districts and schools should accelerate the testing of such performance-based measures and report the results. Counselors should be given incentives to focus on and achieve success on accountability measures.
Coordinate initiatives with community-based organizations
Counselors report tremendous workloads. There are, however, resources to support their efforts. Nonprofit and community-based college access programs are tremendous assets to students, families and schools, but are often staffed with volunteers or professionals who are not as well trained as counselors. Counselors should utilize these services to lessen their individual workloads and also, when appropriate, be considered the point person in schools for coordinating these initiatives.