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Timesheets

The heart of the survey was the timesheet that each counselor was asked to complete. The timesheet consisted of a grid of activity categories and the days of a school week (Monday through Friday). Counselors were asked to record their activities in half-hour increments for each day from Monday, January 28 through Friday, February 1, 2002.

The categories of activities were: guidance curriculum, responsive services, individual planning and system support. The remaining categories detail non-counseling duties such as clerical duties, staff development, personal leave and other categories.

Results of Timesheets

The following exhibit summarizes the timesheets submitted by all counselors (Exhibit 13). Counselors spent slightly less than 60 percent of their time on counseling activities during the survey week. Among counseling activities, the area where counselors spent most of their time was in responsive services. Counselors spent roughly equal amounts of time on guidance curriculum, individual planning and system support.

Counselors indicated that they spent approximately 20 percent of their time on non-counseling but routine activities. Another 9 percent was spent on various administrative and clerical tasks. Personal leave and staff development accounted for about 6 percent of the time spent by counselors during the survey week. Another 5 percent was spent on activities that were unique to a district for that week, with some counselors listing the specific activity. These ranged from activities as varied as field trips to special, once-a-year programs on campus.

Exhibit 13
Counselor Timesheet - Statewide
Category Percentage
Guidance Curriculum 12.1%
Responsive Services 19.0%
Individual Planning 14.6%
System Support 13.3%
Subtotal 59.0%
Non-Guidance Activities 20.3%
Staff Development 2.9%
Personal Leave 3.7%
Administration or Clerical tasks 9.0%
Other 5.1%
TOTAL 100.0%
Source: Comptroller School Counselor Survey, January/February 2002.

Timesheets by Enrollment and Wealth

While Exhibit 13 shows the amount of time counselors spend on certain activities, these times can vary from district to district. Exhibit 14 presents the average amount of counselor time spent on activities by district enrollment. The exhibit shows that there were variations in the time spent on counseling activities by enrollment. For districts with an enrollment of 1,000-1,599, respondents indicated that only about half of their time was spent counseling students. The combined time spent on non-guidance activities and administration or clerical tasks was the highest among all groups. In contrast, counselors from districts with enrollments of 25,000 to 49,999 spent almost two-thirds of their time counseling students. Counselors in school districts with more than 50,000 students were the only other respondents whose average time spent on counseling was more than 60 percent.

Exhibit 14
Timesheets by Enrollment
  Enrollment
Category Fewer than 500 500-999 1,000- 1,599 1,600- 2,999 3,000- 4,999 5,000- 9,999 10,000- 24,999 25,000- 49,999 50,000 or more
Guidance Curriculum 10.2% 11.4% 10.6% 11.9% 11.4% 11.4% 12.4% 13.0% 12.3%
Responsive Services 15.1% 17.6% 17.8% 19.0% 21.7% 18.9% 18.4% 19.8% 18.7%
Individual Planning 12.5% 14.7% 10.9% 11.4% 13.6% 15.5% 13.1% 17.8% 14.6%
System Support 13.4% 12.2% 11.5% 13.2% 12.2% 13.0% 12.4% 14.0% 14.6%
Subtotal 51.2% 55.8% 50.9% 55.5% 58.9% 58.7% 56.3% 64.6% 60.3%
Non-Guidance Activities 20.2% 19.7% 23.5% 23.1% 20.2% 20.4% 25.6% 16.1% 18.4%
Staff Development 2.0% 3.0% 3.3% 2.3% 2.5% 2.5% 3.0% 1.7% 4.5%
Personal Leave 6.5% 4.5% 3.3% 3.1% 3.6% 3.7% 3.5% 4.1% 3.3%
Administration or Clerical tasks 12.3% 10.7% 12.2% 9.7% 9.1% 9.2% 6.9% 8.7% 9.2%
Other 7.8% 6.3% 6.8% 6.2% 5.7% 5.5% 4.7% 4.8% 4.3%
TOTAL 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Source: Comptroller School Counselor Survey, January/February 2002. (Totals may not add due to rounding.)

Timesheets were also analyzed according to district wealth per student (Exhibit 15). This breakdown shows a more even distribution of counseling and non-counseling activities among the timesheets. Counselors in districts with a wealth per student between $272,275 and $333,264 spent the most time counseling students. Exhibit 15 also shows that time spent on other activities did not depend on a district's wealth per student.

Exhibit 15
Timesheets by District Wealth
  Wealth Per Student
Category $18,768-$88,427 $88,546-$132,459 $132,50-$152,475 $152,610-$171,136 $171,197-$199,960 $200,987-$234,111 $234,195-$272,271 $272,275-$333,264 $334,217-$354,054 $354,267 or More
Guidance Curriculum 13.9% 12.4% 12.8% 11.8% 10.9% 10.4% 12.3% 11.6% 12.6% 12.7%
Responsive Services 19.6% 18.6% 18.7% 18.5% 18.6% 18.3% 21.5% 19.6% 17.5% 18.9%
Individual Planning 13.4% 13.2% 14.0% 12.1% 13.4% 17.2% 13.0% 19.2% 13.8% 16.5%
System Support 12.9% 12.7% 12.0% 10.9% 13.8% 13.5% 16.7% 14.1% 13.1% 13.6%
Subtotal 59.8% 57.0% 57.5% 53.4% 56.7% 59.3% 63.5% 64.5% 57.0% 61.6%
Non-Guidance Activities 18.4% 19.6% 21.1% 29.2% 20.2% 18.5% 18.1% 16.5% 18.7% 19.4%
Staff Development 3.0% 2.9% 2.4% 1.8% 5.6% 2.9% 2.9% 2.0% 4.4% 1.9%
Personal Leave 4.9% 4.6% 3.5% 3.2% 4.3% 3.7% 3.8% 2.5% 2.7% 3.6%
Administration or Clerical 8.7% 9.9% 10.5% 6.8% 8.5% 10.2% 7.2% 9.4% 11.6% 9.0%
Other 5.2% 6.0% 5.1% 5.6% 4.8% 5.4% 4.5% 5.1% 5.5% 4.5%
TOTAL 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Source: Comptroller School Counselor Survey, January/February 2002. (Totals may not add due to rounding.)

Timesheets by School Type

The timesheets were also analyzed after they were divided by elementary, middle/junior high and high schools (Exhibit 16). Elementary school counselors spent the most time (64.5 percent) on counseling activities, and middle school and junior high school counselors spent the least time (48.6 percent) on these activities.

Exhibit 16
Timesheets by School Type
Category Elementary Middle/
Junior High
High
School
Alternative
Guidance Curriculum 17.6% 8.0% 9.2% 12.3%
Responsive Services 21.4% 18.3% 16.7% 24.3%
Individual Planning 9.5% 10.7% 22.3% 12.8%
System Support 16.0% 11.6% 11.6% 12.0%
Subtotal 64.5% 48.6% 59.8% 61.4%
Non-Guidance Activities 15.6% 31.5% 18.1% 22.5%
Staff Development 3.3% 2.3% 2.9% 1.9%
Personal Leave 3.8% 3.5% 3.7% 3.5%
Administration or Clerical tasks 7.5% 9.1% 10.4% 8.3%
Other 5.2% 5.1% 5.1% 2.4%
TOTAL 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Source: Comptroller School Counselor Survey, January/February 2002.

Middle school and junior high school counselors also spent the most time (31.5 percent) on "non-guidance activities," and elementary school counselors spent the least time (15.6 percent) on these activities.

TEA provides a suggested time distribution for its core areas of counselor activities. Exhibit 17 shows these recommended ranges.

Exhibit 17
TEA Suggested Time Distribution
By Type of School
Category Elementary
School
Middle School/
Junior High
High
School
Guidance Curriculum 35% -45% 35% - 40% 15% - 25%
Responsive Services 30% - 40% 30% - 40% 25% - 35%
Individual Planning 5% -10% 15% - 25% 25% - 35%
System Support 10% - 15% 10% - 15% 15% - 20%
Non-Guidance 0% 0% 0%
Source: TEA, A Model Developmental Guidance and Counseling Program for Texas Public Schools:
A Guide for Program Development Pre-K-12th Grades, Third Edition, 1998.

As TEA's guidance manual states, the guidelines for time use are suggestions. The manual urges school districts to adjust the recommended times to suit individual campus or district needs. The guidelines state the ideal situation where counselors would not spend time on non-guidance activities.

Exhibit 18 compares the counselor survey results with TEA's suggested time use.

Exhibit 18
Survey Timesheets and TEA Suggested Time Usage
Category Elementary School Middle School/ Junior High High School
Survey Results TEA Suggested Survey Results TEA Suggested Survey Results TEA Suggested
Guidance Curriculum 17.6% 35% -45% 8.0% 35% - 40% 9.2% 15% - 25%
Responsive Services 21.4% 30% - 40% 18.3% 30% - 40% 16.7% 25% - 35%
Individual Planning 9.5% 5% -10% 10.7% 15% - 25% 22.3% 25% - 35%
System Support 16.0% 10% - 15% 11.6% 10% - 15% 11.6% 15% - 20%
Subtotal 64.5% 80% - 100% 48.6% 90% - 100% 59.8% 80% - 100%
Non-Guidance 35.5% 0% 51.4% 0% 40.2% 0%
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Source: TEA, A Model Developmental Guidance and Counseling Program for Texas Public Schools: A Guide for Program Development Pre K-12th Grades, Third Edition, 1998; Comptroller School Counselor Survey, January/February 2002.

The table indicates that counselor time in specific guidance areas during the survey period was far below the recommended level due to the impact of non-counseling duties. In particular, the category "guidance curriculum," the area of guidance where counselors help students develop basic life skills such as problem-solving and goal-setting strategies, seemed especially low during the survey period among counselors in middle school/junior high and high schools. Guidance curriculum involves a significant amount of student contact, so the statistics seem to indicate that counselor time with students may be lost due to a counselor's need to perform other duties.