Articles tagged with school counselors

Report: High-level high school courses and school counseling boost college graduations

Taking high-level math in high school as well as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses can have a dramatic impact on whether a student finishes college, according to a report released today from the National School Boards Association’s  Center for Public Education.

The “persistence rate” for students from above average socioeconomic backgrounds (SES) is 10 percent higher in four-year institutions if they had taken Pre-calculus or Calculus or math above Algebra II in high school. For low SES students, the effect is even greater: Those students who took higher level math are 22 percent more likely to persist in college. And the impact for both groups is even greater at two-year colleges.

In addition to AP, IB, and math classes, academic advising in college has a significant impact on a student’s propensity to stay in college, the report said.

“But we also believe that academic advising can be a great benefit when it starts earlier,” the report said. “Middle and high schools need enough counselors to monitor student progress so they can make sure all students are taking rigorous courses and have the support they need to be successful in them. Counselors also fill an important role in helping students plan for their futures after high school, including help choosing a post-secondary institution that best matches their goals, and navigating the college application and financial aid processes.”

Researchers project that by 2018, America will have produced 3 million fewer college graduates than the labor market demands. But that could be changed by better college outcomes, says Jim Hull, a senior policy analyst at the Center.

“If 90 percent of current freshmen continue and earn a credential, we would have an additional 3.8 million graduates by 2020, enough to meet the labor market’s needs,” Hull said. “This study points to clear-cut ways to help more students continue their work toward a degree, and that process begins in high school.”

Hull coauthored the report with lead researcher Kasey Klepfer, an Archer Graduate Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin.

The study identifies three main factors that affect postsecondary students’ chances of staying on track to graduation, particularly for students who enter high school behind most of their peers and who come from families with low socioeconomic status:

  • Academic advising:  For both four-year and two-year students, talking to an academic advisor in college either “sometimes” or “often” significantly improved their chances to persist. Students in two-year institutions increased their chances of staying on track by as much as 53 percent just by meeting frequently with their academic advisor.
  • High-level mathematics: Consistent with previous studies, the Center’s researchers found the highest level of math in high school can be one of the largest predictors of college success. The analysis found that more affluent students who began high school with above average achievement had a 10 percent better chance of staying at a four-year institution if they had taken Pre-calculus or Calculus instead of completing math up to Algebra II, while students from low-income families and lesser academic achievements were 22 percent more likely to persist if they had taken high-level math classes. The impact is greatest for students in two-year institutions:  The persistence rates of students who took Pre-Calculus or Calculus in high school increased by 18 percent for the higher wealth, higher performing group and 27 percent for the lower wealth, lower performing students than had they only completed up to Algebra II.
  • Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses:  Taking an AP/IB course had a dramatic effect on students’ chance of persisting even when students fail the end-of-course test. Low achieving and high poverty students who took an AP/IB course were 18 percent more likely to persist in four-year colleges and 30 percent more likely to persist in two-year institutions. The more courses a student took, the higher their persistence rates.
  • Other high school factors also impacted students’ persistence rates in college, including students’ grade point average and the amount of time spent on homework in high school.

The good news is that this study shows actions that school leaders can take to improve their graduates’ chances for success in college,” said Patte Barth, the Center’s director. “Rigorous high school curriculum is important for all students’ future success. And the value of academic advising in college tells us that high schools can get a jump on it by helping their students with their after high school plans.”

Barth added, “Opening these opportunities can have the most impact for students who have traditionally been the least likely to succeed in college — those from low-income families and those who began high school as low achievers.”

The report can be downloaded at the Center’s website: www.centerforpubliceducation.org.

Also check out the upcoming November issue of the  American School Board Journal where this issued will be featured.

Lawrence Hardy|October 11th, 2012|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Center for Public Education, Dropout Prevention, High Schools, Mathematics Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , , , |

School counselors move to central education role

Just as the role of teacher has shifted in the last several years, so has the role of the school counselor, turning a once-fringe position into a proactive, data-driven, and integrated part of delivering a world class education for every child.

A distinguished panel of school counselors talked about these changes and the challenges of being a school counselor in the 21st century during a Saturday session of the Council of Urban Boards of Education winter Issues Forum at NSBA’s Leadership Conference.

“Yesterday’s counselor was very reactive. You rarely found them. Today’s counselor is serving all students. They’re not waiting for students to come to them; they’re looking at student’s needs and planning for them,” said Julie Hartline, the head counselor at Campbell High School in Georgia’s Cobb County School District. “Yesterday’s counselor would say, ‘I don’t know what kind of impact I have on a student until they’re gone. Today’s counselor has that data. It’s moved us into the role of being school leaders, instead of being ancillary.”

Indeed, Cobb County schools must set annual goals and part of her job at Nickajack Elementary is to track the school’s progress on those goals and areas where the counseling program can help achieve them, said Nicole Pfleger, who jsut names the 2012 National School Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselors Association.

A focus on improving math scores, for instance, resulted in targeted interventions for struggling math students. Meanwhile, the identification of “frequent flyers” or students who were continually referred to the disciplinary office, led to the DREAM Team, a program for at-risk boys that works on issues like character development, self-control, etiquette, and respect, Pfleger said.

“Our job is to help raise aspirations and aspirations come with information,” said Carolyn Stone, who spent 22 years as a school counselor at Florida’s Duval County Public Schools before becoming a professor of counselor education at the University of North Florida.

School counselors are ideally situated to close the information gap, which Stone said must be part of any effort to close the achievement gap.

“It’s about helping them connect the dots, making sure they know this is what you need to do to be successful,” Stone said. “I don’t want to sound simplistic, but sometimes it comes down to setting goals, so that when that kid is about to graduate, they have options, whether it’s a two-year, a four-year program or technical college, they know what they’re options are.”

Naomi Dillon|February 4th, 2012|Categories: Leadership, Leadership Conference 2012, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |
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