Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Added Work Dilutes Counselors' Efforts ; Chamber Notes College Prep Time Is Cut for Monitoring Tasks Making the Grade

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Added Work Dilutes Counselors' Efforts ; Chamber Notes College Prep Time Is Cut for Monitoring Tasks Making the Grade

Article excerpt

Counselors love college prep and promoting any postsecondary training because that's the result of their job: to make sure students are successful when they leave school, says Marcia Staser, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. coordinator of student services. Staser, who coordinates the 49 counselors in the district, said they are "frustrated about not being able to spend enough time on that."

A report released last week by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation - Indiana School Counseling Research Review - found the majority of school counselors want to spend more time with college and career guidance but, with other duties, they aren't able to. More than 400 Indiana counselors, 73 percent of those from high schools, were surveyed. Fifty-eight percent said a quarter or less of their time is spent on college and career readiness activities, according to the report.

Since 2010, the report states, the amount of time counselors are asked to devote to non-counseling duties - including hall monitor, administering state-mandated assessments and lunch-room duty - has more than doubled.

Derek Redelman, Indiana Chamber vice president of education and workforce development, said in a statement a school counselor's job duties include a growing catchall list of non-related activities that takes them from their primary function.

"And that needs to be addressed.... Being unable to more frequently do their essential job is the No. 1 thing we heard about from counselors," Redelman said.

Staser agreed that a counselor's primary duties are everything listed in the report, plus a variety of others, including scheduling classes and making sure students are on track to graduate, signing up students as 21st Century Scholars and preparing scholarship application letters, career exploration for the state-required graduation plan, keeping attendance and helping with individual service plans for students with special needs.

And often, Staser said, counselors try to complete these tasks while kids wait to talk to them about breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or issues going on at home.

"One of the things they do, which they do so well, is suicide prevention," Staser said.

Sometimes counselors try to work certain duties into others, such as talking to students during lunch room duty. But Staser said this is not always the best way because it's not very confidential and their attention can't be dedicated to that student's needs.

"It is true that there often isn't time to do everything. …

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