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Appendix G
Sample Comments on How to Improve Counselor Effectiveness

The following are selected comments from school counselors to the following question:

"What could be done to ensure that your time and skills are directed toward students' educational, career and personal needs?"

The comments have been edited for length and grammar, but not for content.

  • We need a testing facilitator. Testing throughout the year takes so much of our time.
  • Reduce all paperwork to a minimum and have paraprofessionals take care of this task. The assistant principals need to remember that we are not their secretaries and assign all paper work to paraprofessionals. We were not hired to deviate their workload.
  • Eliminate or hire someone else to be a coordinator for Parental Involvement. This is half of my job duties.
  • I would like to see a counseling clerk at the elementary level. I am responsible for all the meeting scheduling and copying of paperwork and tracking of our 504, MTA, and at-risk populations. Some clerical help in this area would help me be more effective and have more time for development of the counseling program on my campus.
  • Take testing and data entry jobs away.
  • Take away extra duties not pertaining to counseling, assign scheduling and schedule changes to another professional-that is what really eats up our time.
  • Put administration in charge of administrating TAAS - the emotional issues surrounding TAAS are of greater concern to us, and we need time to address those (issues) which we don't do because we're "TAASing." Let Principal and Assistant Principals handle testing issues like TAAS with teachers and parents.
  • Fortunately I work for a principal who recognizes the true role of a school counselor. I have limited non-counselor duties. I am the administrator for speech ARDS (a district requirement) and of course, coordinate all standardized testing. Other than that, I work with children.
  • Require instead of recommend a ratio for counselor/student.
  • It seems all I do is test students for op. ed. resource classes, prepare all SDAA and TAAS. TAKS tests, prepare district TAAS/TAKS benchmark every month, observe students in the classroom (for spec. ed.), and attend ARD and 504 meetings. Have a person to do all the above mentioned so I can actually use my master's degree in counseling. I would then be able to have more group and individual counseling; character education. For two years (immediately prior to my last two as an elementary counselor, I was a high school counselor for two years. (same district) and all I did there was educational planning, scheduling; checking credits.
  • Mandate that TAAS/TAKS testing and field testing be done by an administrator or require someone to be the "testing coordinator" for a campus! With TAAS three to four times per year, field testing several times, SAT testing seven times per year, German test, French Test (national) two weeks AP testing, PSAT testing, RPTE testing, Explore, PLAN testing-it should be a full time position assigned to one person! (End-of-course testing too!)
  • I work for an excellent school district, however, I feel that the 1-900 ratio is overwhelming and I know that more services could be provided if the ratio was lower or if there was a full-time counselor on both campuses.
  • TAAS/SDAA planning and administration and scheduling duties should be assigned to other personnel.
  • Hire more clerks to do administrative tasks. Change counselor Ed certification courses to reflect what a school counselor does. Have counselors who are "guidance" and counselors who are "counselors."
  • Have other employees assigned to the many clerical tasks such as scheduling of classes. Too much time wasted on changing and making schedules.
  • Special Ed Counseling seems to be the only services at our schools. I see the regular ed school counselors at a frantic pace, unable to tend to children's personal problems that negatively affect their classroom performance. At least in Special Ed I don't have curriculum duties and can actively give 20 minutes of individual time to special ed kids.
  • Hire a vice principal - It's just me and principal. Perhaps a secretary would help.
  • Delegate lunch duties and other administrative tasks to others.
  • Assign all testing duties to either an assistant principle or hire a part-time person to do it. It is a huge time waster. It is virtually impossible to see children either individually, in small groups or in classes during testing times. Heaven forbid a child have a crisis during testing. Also, the role and educational level are interchangeable with the assistant principal, yet there is a huge discrepancy in salaries. Counselors are given many administrative duties and are not compensated.
  • A clear job description and guideline from the state is needed. Administrators should not view counselors in a vice principal role. (Region 11) Assign clerical work to the clerks or secretaries. At-risk identification, testing, special programs (Red Ribbon) could be done by teachers, parents. Whereby more time could be devoted to guidance, parent education and group counseling. Administrative duties need to be handled by the AP or principal. (i.e., coverage at assemblies/monitor discipline)
  • In the past three years, I have been fortunate to work under principals who support the students' needs. The are focused on my seeing children and adults. Three years ago I left junior high counseling simply because I no longer wanted to schedule. The junior high age is my favorite-but counselors are not traditionally encouraged to see students-Just schedule and do paper work.
  • Our counseling coordinator is very supportive and protective of our counseling role.
  • I am very fortunate to be employed in a school district and at a campus that values school counselors and does everything possible to protect their time with the students. I am a counselor who actually is allowed to counsel.
  • Hire extra clerk for high peak times: example: input numbers for coming year course selections-test coordinator for each school-improve transcript printing system so each line did not have to be check each time we receive transcripts
  • Student-to-counselor ratio makes true counseling difficult. It is hard for a counselor to work effectively with 500+ students of course, school district philosophy affects the nature of counseling.
  • Lunch duty every day should not be allowed. Bus duty every three weeks should not be allowed. Less time spent on disciplinary issues. Less time spent on TAAS. Assistant principals or principals should be campus coordinators of TASS, SDAA, and RTPE.
  • At the present time I have a principal who enables me to spend my time directed toward students' educational career and personal needs. I know all of our counselors don't get the same consideration as I have on my campus.
  • I am lucky enough to be in a district where the superintendent believes administrators should be in charge of testing, not counselors. I have been on an interview committee for a new high school assistant principal. Of eight candidates, not one had ever been in charge of testing. They all reported that testing is the counselor's responsibility. This is not acceptable.
  • It would be ideal if the district would hire a person (non-counselor) to be in charge of coordinating all testing, for example, the TAAS testing, SDAA testing, GT testing, RTPE testing, end-of-course testing and all field testing. This would give counselors more time to work with children.
  • I am responsible for building the master schedule, schedule changes, report card processing, PEIMS input, etc. These tasks consume most of my day leaving no time to talk to students much less get out into the classrooms. These duties must be assigned to the district PEIMS coordinator and/or building principal.
  • We need more help with clerical duties. An additional staff member to assist with clerical duties (paraprofessional) would help. Many non-guidance activities/responsibilities have been shifted to the Guidance Office. Re-visiting duties/responsibilities and roles of staff may also help.
  • (Without considering my other duties) With 1 counselor for almost 700 students at two levels (Mid. & Elem.) it is impossible to provide a quality guidance program. Most of my work in counseling is in responsive services. I suggest hiring two counselors-one for each campus and have hoped for this for eight years.
  • More support from administration not to be given tasks of writing crisis management plans and other non-guidance activities. A high school principal with a high school background in rules and regulations, Tech Prep etc. More cooperation with administration at high school in meeting with students.
  • There needs to be some directives from the State Board of Education that will identify counselor duties and identify non-guidance duties that the counselor will not be required to do.
  • Take scheduling/testing away from the counselor's role-Have counselors for guidance and development activities and parent workshops-to promote social/academic development/career tech prep information awareness.
  • Secretary and a third counselor. Less students per counselor. Someone else to be responsible for scheduling. At the present time I am considered the PEIMS and scheduling queen.
  • I am under the direction of the superintendent, elementary principal, and high school principal. Until the superintendent understands my job, and is instructed by the state to limit counselor responsibilities, things will not change.
  • Administrator awareness and training.
  • If someone could maintain the scheduling and schedule changes, I could spend more quality time with the students' educational, career and personal needs.
  • Less administrative duty. More time to meet students' counseling needs. I am an elementary counselor at a very low-income, high risk school, and I am expected to facilitate many social work type duties, i.e. clothing, food, Christmas gifts, supplies-These duties take me away from being able to meet the emotional needs of students. Maybe these duties could be best handled by a community liaison staff person!?
  • Fewer meetings and scheduling.
  • I do presentations in the classroom; however, teachers have become harder to work with to gain class time from because of the pressure of student performance on the state testing program. I find getting access to students is becoming harder. Counselors in Texas are assigned many tasks the administrators could do or a secretary. A strongly defined job description is needed.
  • Most of my time is directed towards these areas, however: for other staff members and administrators to realize I should not have to deal with discipline, some aspects of schedules, and preparing materials for the TAAS test as well as other clerical duties would be ideal.
  • Hire more aides to do some of the mundane paperwork - Give counselors time to plan-All in-service days that are scheduled during the days before school starts, I am registering students! That's explaining graduation plans, doing a four-year plan and talking to them about life goals-But it leaves me with no time to plan a K-12 curriculum.
  • It is sometimes difficult to have small groups and time for individuals where the teacher can let me see them, If I could take students during PE or music on a very limited basis (once every 2 weeks for 30 minutes) it would help so much.
  • Hire more counselors or counselor secretaries, etc.
  • Principals don't assign (or over-assign) duties to counselors that can be done by assistant teacher, deans or vice principal. (lunch duty, bus duty, discipline) Keep student-to-counselor ratio low.
  • Hire more clerical help. Better distribution of clerical work. Better system of scheduling (computer) we do a lot of schedule changes. Smaller student/counselor ratio.
  • Take away the scheduling that can be done by any clerk.
  • The major problem is time to spend on guidance activities. To do the job correctly, I feel that every counselor needs a secretary or clerical help. Student assistants are not acceptable because of the confidentiality of the materials and issues that we handle. I am overwhelmed with paperwork/clerical issues such as filing test results, labels on transcripts, copying and mailing transcripts, writing recommendations, filling out reports, etc. In addition, serving as the TAAS district coordinator has become a tremendous task. I must receive, count, distribute, receive back from campuses, count, send off every state test, including the regular TAAS, field tests, SDAA, RPTE, end-of-course, etc. Aside from the state-mandated tests, we do PSAT, PLAN, achievement tests, released-form practice tests, AP tests, ASVAB. Testing especially dominates the spring semester.
  • Small districts such as ours should have a full-time employee whose sole purpose is to coordinate, order, box and ship, schedule, and be responsible for administering all testing.
  • Financial support to hire enough qualified personnel to take care of non-guidance activities. Our district can not afford extra staff support and wages for paraprofessional support does not attract or keep qualified personnel. Therefore, we counselors create the master schedule; student schedules; organize and give tests; follow and chart student failures; receive, organize and dispense college and career info; gather info for PEIMS; input student data for registration, at-risk, and graduate info; and attend all assemblies and activities.
  • I need to be able to attend more workshops to learn more and keep rejuvenated. I usually only go to the two-day counseling conference once a year.
  • Counselor-to-student ratio be at state suggested levels, TAAS be taken away. Special education counselors be mandated at every school.
  • To ensure the above desired "goals," the administration at my school would have to change their philosophy of counseling duties completely. As it is, we do the registration of all students (which at other alternative schools is done by administrators). They view us as glorified secretaries. The biggest part of our day is registration, intake and making schedules.
  • Ratio of students to counselors lowered; make administrators (assistant principal...) responsible for administration of tests (i.e.: TAAS, field test, EOC, RTPE...)
  • Have others do non-guidance activities such as lunch detail, awards assemblies, spelling bees, costume contests, pep rallies, test monitoring, etc.
  • To ensure that a counselor's time and skills are directed toward the students, it would be necessary to remove that statement from job descriptions that states: "...and any other duties so assigned by principal." In addition, testing should be done with testing teams hired for that purpose. Also, there should be special education assessment teams that attend ARDs.
  • Lately I have been used to cover classes when teachers have ARD meetings. I don't mind helping out, but when I have to reschedule a classroom presentation or not see a child that needs me it becomes a problem.
  • Principals and districts should not expect or allow counselors to fill such a large percentage of our counseling time with special education duties, fill in for vice principal duties, and so much testing.
  • Administrators need to be able to thoroughly understand the implementation requirements for changes or projects mandated. Most of the time I spend on non-guidance duties is deemed necessary to administrators who do not carry though on responsibilities of their own.
  • Hire more clerical and support staff to handle non-guidance issue such as paperwork and some non-confidential record-keeping tasks.
  • That is a very tough question. Tests are taking up more and more time. The lack of other support personnel causes us to assume non-guidance duties at times. Being assigned to approximately 730 students is a factor. Having two schools causes many "time-eaters." Ideally, removing TAAS (testing) duties, Special Education duties, SST/504 duties would help counselors use time/skills more appropriately. Keeping counselor-to-student ratios less than or equal to 1:400 would be helpful. The duties mentioned are actually somewhat related to counselor duties, but are taking away from responsive services and guidance lessons especially.
  • We desperately need testing coordinators on our campus. So much of our time is tied up in testing. The new SDAA field test is incredibly time consuming to prepare to administer. We will work 12 hour days (or more) during TAAS/SDAA time and literally cannot see children. This is a school and sometimes we have to pitch in where needed. I like to do some of the administrative work-but not at the neglect of the children. Testing is out of control in my opinion.
  • It has been my experience over nine years of counseling that "counselor" time has been decreased due to demands from the state regarding testing. Every time the state mandates programs, reports, paperwork, etc. it has to be passed to some staff person-counselors have the most flexible schedule and are the likely candidates to receive the work. When all paper-pushing, testing, reporting is done hopefully counselors have time left for students.
  • ...Test administrators view counselors as valuable resources in the school. Administrators too often assume our roles and then want to hand off non-counseling duties (cafeteria, testing, registration) to counselors.
  • Hire somebody for clerical tasks and non-guidance activities.
  • TEA needs to mandate to school districts that counselor's positions are not to be used for administrative, disciplinary, clerical or supervisory tasks such as lunch duties, bus, hall duty and using counselors to temporarily teach or take over class while substitute arrives to classroom. This is a school with 700 to 750 students and there is only one full-time counselor assigned and a part time counselor does not meet student/counselor ratio. Also is hard to implement the state mandated curriculum.
  • No additional assignments, duties, committee work.
  • My fall semester is great. I have time for the guidance classroom lessons. I have time for Individual and group counseling. I have time for parent training. None of that is true for the spring. Testing takes priority over everything. (That includes my training, me training teachers, me preparing for the tests (administrative and clerical).
  • Take away administrative task that could be done by registrar's office and/or clerical. Testing responsibilities are unbelievable...TAAS, Field test, SDAA, Benchmark and so on.
  • I would like to see more counselors hired in our school district to allow us more time for classroom guidance activities and individual/family counseling. It's very difficult serving two separate campuses and being effective.
  • Encourage administrators on the importance of allowing counselors to meet students' needs.