Emerging Concerns regarding the Hiring Practices of School Counselors: A Delphi Study

By Solmonson, Le'Ann L.; Roaten, Gail et al. | Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research, Winter 2011 | Go to article overview

Emerging Concerns regarding the Hiring Practices of School Counselors: A Delphi Study


Solmonson, Le'Ann L., Roaten, Gail, Sawyer, Cheryl, Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research


Across the state of Texas, individuals are routinely hired to serve in the capacity of professional school counselors without the proper training or credentials. This Delphi study attempted to generate a consensus among counselor educators and directors of guidance on the associated concerns regarding this hiring practice. Themes were generated from the responses of 21 counselor educators and 5 directors of guidance. The practice was examined using three separate codes of ethics, professional literature, and the responses of non-certified individuals currently serving as professional school counselors.

Professional School Counselors (PSCs) are a vital part of the educational leadership team serving the academic, career development, and personal/social needs of students (De Voss Sc Andrews, 2006). In a single day, a PSC can deal with academic planning, college applications, behavioral disturbances in students, interaction with governmental agencies such as Child Protective or Juvenile Probation, upset stressed out teachers, and students in crisis. In addition to these issues, the PSC is charged with the development and management of a comprehensive guidance and counseling program intended to meet the developmental needs of all students. PSCs must also address closing the achievement gap while providing equity for all students (ASCA, 2005; TEA, 2004). Quality student services provided by a PSC are contingent upon receiving the appropriate professional education and training required to meet the diverse needs of today's students. While Texas Education Code Chapter 33 (TEC § 33.2.F.33.A, 2003) calls for employment of at least one school counselor for every 500 students, there is no legal mandate found in state statute to do so. In addition, there seems to be a shortage of certified elementary and secondary school counselors in Texas (University of North Texas, 2009). For these reasons, districts often seek to uncertified individuals as school counselors. The result is that many students in Texas do not have the benefit of a highly trained professional serving in the role of PSC on their campus.

Background Information

Counselor educators are routinely contacted by individuals who have already been or have the promise of being employed as a PSC prior to making application or being admitted to a counselor education program. The requests from mese individuals include emergency certification, deficiency plans, a degree plan, an¿/or guaranteed admission into the counseling program. With increasing frequency, classroom teachers without the proper education or required credentials are routinely being asked to take on the responsibilities of a PSC while obtaining on tne job training. This practice raises numerous concerns associated with the welfare of students and liability for the ^ool district. Also of concern is the pressure being placed on counselor education programs to train and educate tnese fledgling counselors; a practice which potentially threatens the entire profession.

Probationary or emergency credentialing is unique to the educational setting. The practice of hiring uneducated/untrained professionals to serve as ^hoo! counselors suggests school counselors need less sophisticated skills than other counselors (Magnuson, Black, & Norem, 2004). Many administrators do not understand the unique skill set or required of school counselors 2009; Kirchner Sc Setchfield, PSCs provide a vast array of guidance, and mental health services on a school campus. In some instances, the may be the only mental health al with whom a student has contact. is especially true in small rural that only employ one counselor serves all grades. Anecdotal suggests these small districts are likely to engage in the practice of hiring uncertified individual to fill the position. Consequently, students in districts may not receive the same level services in the school systems as served in other counseling Numerous issues arise in such As the only counselor in the district, this individual does not have a colleague with whom to consult. …

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