A recent report by the American School Counselor Association found Arizona is last in the nation in the number of K-12 students per counselor. The state's school districts averaged 905 students per counselor in the 2016-17 school year. That's more than 150 students higher than the second-worst state, Michigan, and more than triple what the ASCS recommends.
But most of Arizona’s school districts fair worse than the statewide average, and only a handful the association’s recommended levels.
According to federal data for 2016-17, four of the 121 Northern Arizona school districts have a student-to-counselor ratio that the American School Counselor Association says would ensure a realistic case load for a counselor.
Jill Cook is the Assistant Director of the Association. She says schools that hit that ratio often show notable benefits.
“They have higher attendance, higher test scores, fewer discipline issues. We’re getting ready to release a research brief that shows in schools with exemplary school counseling programs, the students are more ready for post-secondary opportunities. They have higher ACT and SAT scores.”
Cook says the job of a counselor is more than career and post-secondary readiness, and now includes work to ensure social and emotional development.
Ninety-two Northern Arizona school districts fall below the statewide average in data from the National Center for Education Statistics.
And 84 of those districts report having no counselors on staff.