Friday, January 2, 2009


Sandy Garrett: The state superintendent, a former counselor herself, says counselors need more time to help students.
Published: 1/2/2009
OKLAHOMA CITY — School counselors are spending more of their time coordinating achievement tests at the expense of their primary mission, State Superintendent Sandy Garrett says.
Many counselors across the state now devote about 40 percent of their time to scheduling student achievement tests mandated by federal and state law and working with instructional teachers to make sure all testing requirements are met.
As a result, Garrett said, the traditional support system for students is being jeopardized when they need it most. "With as many social ills as Oklahoma has — poverty, gangs, drugs and suicides — we have a need for a lot more counselors than are being produced, and we have a need for eliminating some of the duties they are given, such as test score coordinators," Garrett said.
To address the problem, Garrett will soon lay out a plan for school districts to hire and train part-time personnel during the peak achievement testing cycles to free up more one-on-one counseling time for counselors. Counselors last school year administered 43 tests in grades 3-12 and spent six weeks of their time testing students, not counting the time it took to coordinate tests and allow for retesting. On average, there was one counselor to every 353 students in all grade levels last school year. The American School Counselor Association recommends one counselor to every 250 students. In Oklahoma, school counselors are required to have a master's degree, which has made it difficult for some districts to fill vacant positions.
Although she acknowledged that many districts are having a hard time financially, Garrett said too much of the testing burden has been shifted to counselors. "They are mastered-degree people, and we need to give them some relief," said Garrett, who has a master's degree in counseling and served as a counselor. "They should be able to guide and counsel." It's a problem that has crept up on many districts as Oklahoma schools have implemented a number of federal- and state-mandated tests to measure student achievement and determine how effectively schools are performing. Garrett said it takes a lot of scheduling and maneuvering to make sure tests are taken on time and that all students are tested, leaving less time for counselors to work with students on career, personal and social development. "There is less guidance counseling going on, and it's either not getting done or the gap is being filled by teachers," Garrett said. "We know today we have students who have need for a caring adult in their life. Many times it becomes the counselor." Garrett said volunteers could be trained as test score coordinators, but because of the importance of the role, Garrett said she hopes funding can be found to create the part-time positions. Volunteers already make contributions to school districts as test monitors, but Garrett said more help is needed because of the growth and the importance of the testing program.

1 comment:

  1. This is what happens when there is too much government oversight. The government can't run anything very well, then when they mandate things to other entities they cripple them too. I so remember. It's a shame too.

    Have a terrific day and weekend honey. Big hug. :)


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