As the state of Arizona moves toward a new assessment, it’s a good time to raise awareness of the role data plays in helping school counselors ensure students succeed. As school district budgets continue to be tightened, it is also imperative stakeholders understand that when the ratio of counselors to students is appropriate, a school counselor can do many things for a school to impact student and prepare students for college and careers. (Arizona’s average ratio is 861:1, although American School Counselor Association recommends 250:1)

School counselors are important at every grade level to maximize student success. Counselors at the high school level regularly review academic data, such as grades and test scores, to identify struggling students and to understand which students are on track to graduate. Interventions with students who are failing may include: individual planning, parent phone calls, academic or study skills groups, whole group study skills, or test taking lessons.

Counselors also rely on discipline data to improve academic achievement. For example, when students are suspended or referred to the office it is time they spend away from the classroom, which means they are not getting the same instruction as their peers. This can result in falling grades and impact standardized test scores. School counselors can work with students individually, conference with parents, and/or work with students in groups to reduce discipline referrals. These interventions increase academic achievement and help level the playing field with other students.

Attendance data is another tool used by school counselors to support student achievement. In elementary and middle school, too many missed school days can ultimately impact a child’s ability to move on to the next grade. In high school, students who miss too many days of school may not receive credit for certain classes and risk not graduating. School counselors are able to meet with these students to help them get back on track.

With the necessary supports in place, school counselors are uniquely equipped to promote academic success and help Arizona students become college and career ready. To learn more about the role and impact of school counselors, visit the Arizona School Counselors Association website.

Jaimie Gosling is the president elect of the Arizona School Counselor Association and a practicing school counselor in the Pendergast Elementary School District.

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