Feds to States: Help School Counselors Provide College/Career Advising

July 3, 2014
Elizabeth Morgan, Director of External Relations

In a June 30 letter to chief state school officers, U.S. Department of Education Arne Duncan asked states and school districts to provide guidance counselors with the time, space, and resources they need to help students complete their academic course work, successfully navigate the college admissions and financial aid processes, and/or prepare for productive careers. He noted that counselors are often required to perform many “non-counseling” duties instead and that one in five U.S. high schools has no guidance counselors on staff. 

“If the nation is to meet President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, it is imperative that all students have consistent access to school counselors who possess the training and skills to help students reach their highest aspirations,” Duncan said. He urged states and districts to use the summer months to strategize and develop policies and programs that enable school counselors to become more effective at helping greater numbers of students successfully access postsecondary education or career opportunities.

Duncan noted that this work would require “wise investments” in professional development for school counselors and other school personnel as well as data platforms that give counselors relevant and timely information about students’ progress toward postsecondary education .

“Especially in low-income high schools, guidance counselors often lack the time and training to provide individualized postsecondary admissions and financial aid advising to students,” Kim Cook, NCAN’s executive director, said. “NCAN joins Secretary Duncan in asking states to support guidance counselors on college/career planning and to collaborate even more deeply with NCAN member programs around the country that partner with districts to provide college access services. ”

Duncan also provided a list of federal initiatives and programs that may be used to support the hiring, development, and retention of effective school counselors, including school counselor-led professional development activities.

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