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August 2002


The Honorable Rick Perry
The Honorable William R. Ratliff
The Honorable James E. "Pete" Laney
Members of the 77th Legislature
Commissioner Felipe T. Alanis, Ph.D.

Fellow Texans:

I am pleased to present my report on public school guidance counselors as authorized by Senate Bill 538 of the 77th Legislature. S.B. 538 required my office to conduct a survey of how school counselors spend their time. My office sent more than 9,940 surveys to school counselors throughout the state-more than 4,040 counselors returned a completed survey. We also examined the ratios of students to counselors in every school district.

From this information, we learned that counselors spend up to 40 percent of their time on activities other than counseling. Counselors said that spending so much time on other activities has reduced their availability to students.

While the demands on school staff to manage schools effectively vary from district to district, my office recommends each district develop a local policy on the use of counselors' time. We believe a local policy is the best way to preserve local control but still bring this issue before the school board, school staff, and the community in every district.

We also recommend the Texas Education Agency (TEA) monitor local policies on counselor time through the agency's District Effectiveness and Compliance reviews. Finally, we recommend TEA automate the information it now collects from counselors, funded through a Compensatory Education grant which pays for 240 counselors of at-risk students.

The results of our study are available on my Window on State Government Web site at http://www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/counselor/. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance. Thanks for all that you do for Texas.

Sincerely,

Carole Keeton Rylander's Signature
Carole Keeton Rylander
Texas Comptroller