How important are school counselors? (Spoiler alert: very)

Female Student Talking To High School Counselor

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Even one additional counselor in an elementary school could have a profound positive impact on learning and conduct, according to a study coauthored by Texas A&M University Economics Professor Mark Hoekstra.

When it comes to academic performance, there’s always talk of class size and teacher quality, but little focus on other factors. In their paper “Are School Counselors an Effective Education Input?” Hoekstra and coauthor Scott E. Carrell, University of California-Davis, studied 3rd through 5th graders in Alachua County, Fla., from 1995-96 through 2002-03 and found the addition of one school counselor increased test scores and reduced bad behavior.

“Additional counselors were counselor interns who were placed by a nearby university,” Hoekstra explains. “We examined how achievement changed when schools received an additional counselor and compared that to the change in achievement observed in other schools over the same time period.

“We find that adding one counselor to an elementary school increases boys’ reading and math test scores by over one percentile point and reduces disciplinary infractions for both boys and girls by over 20 percent.”

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