School Guidance and Counseling - Recommended Ratios
Counselor to Student Ratios
The effectiveness of the developmental guidance and counseling program is directly related to the counselor-to-student ratio within the program. The number of counselors needed to staff the program is dependent on the students' and community's needs and on the goals and design of the local program. Conversely, the program should be designed to make optimal use of the personnel available, but it cannot be expected to do more than that. The ratios should be sufficiently low to meet the identified, high priority needs of the students and the school community.
It is clear that the larger the counselor's student load, the less individual attention students receive; the smaller the student load, the more individual attention is allowed for. If the district or campus staff identifies high priority needs of students who require individual or small group attention, the adopted ratio must reflect that. For example, if a high school program deems it necessary to hold individual conferences to facilitate students' individual planning, a ratio of 1:300 might be necessary. The number of students in a counselor's student load who have intensified needs for responsive services dictates lower ratios. Special needs populations include students who are educationally/economically disadvantaged, physically/emotionally disabled or abused, highly mobile, dropout prone, and/or migrant.
Ratio recommendations are wide ranging. The American School Counselor Association recommends a maximum ratio of 1:250. The Texas School Counselor Association , Texas Association of Secondary School Principals , and the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association have recommended ratios of 1:350. In Section V of the following guide, Counseling Program Section 5, a process for determining legitimate program expectations from a given ratio is provided.
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Page last modified on 8/10/2012.