Brianna Meiers wrote and shared this article on bullying and school counseling programs for me to publish here for you. I am happy to do so and please do respond to any thoughts you have about the article. ~Alan Eisenberg
Bullying awareness is on the rise across the country, but actually seeing the effects of this positive change is often hindered by ever-tightening school budgets. Brianna Meiers’ piece below examines the connection between school counseling services and student achievement, both when it comes to confidence and college potential. Brianna writes for a website that publishes a comprehensive listing of psychology programs, as well as guides for students looking to break into school counseling as a career.
With Bullying in Schools Increasing, School Counsellors Are More Important Than Ever Before
As budgeting concerns continue to plague public schools, administrative staff are looking for departments to cut and ways to save money on the sly. Student counseling services, which include college counseling, substance abuse therapy, and academic mentorship programs, are often an easy first target. While these programs do not directly contribute to better grades or increased performance, they nevertheless play a very important role in student success and confidence. Cutting counseling programs or slashing their budgets has the potential to significantly damage attendance, graduation rates, and college preparedness. These are the areas most typically referred to as “the failures of the education system,” so we should make sure our public schools do not cut funding from these integral counseling programs. Counselors often also play a role in anti-bullying campaigns, which is of growing importance nationwide.
School counselors play a number of roles, all of which are crucial for the success of a secondary school. In order to measure school effectiveness, researchers and parents alike use numbers like graduation rates, percentage of college-bound seniors, and general academic skills, such as reading and math levels.
The effect of school counselors on these areas may be obvious, but their impact may be even more influential than teachers in some cases. A student who comes from a home that does not value academic achievement may not have the motivation to apply him or herself to the classroom. A student with undiagnosed depression may not have the energy to excel, but nonetheless holds the potential to do so with the right counseling.
According to Robert Bardwell, writing for the New York Times, “Research shows that comprehensive school counseling programs do indeed affect student success and achievement. Data also indicate that students who have access to quality school counseling do better on standardized achievement tests, one predictor of success in college.” In other words, the higher the quality of school counseling programs, the better the students are prepared for college. They feel more confident in navigating the social struggles and peer issues in high school, which gives them strength to want to succeed in school and further their own education. If we want more students to go to college and to increase performance on test scores, then we should voice the real reasons for poor secondary-school performance and treat the real problem.
Yet even with the plethora of conclusive evidence on the subject, it remains difficult to persuade parents and voters to prioritize student services. At face value, it makes more sense that increasing spending on teaching should improve a student’s preparedness for life after school. For this reason, as Mr. Bardwell points out, counseling has not even entered the national debate on the education system.
In addition to the concerns listed above, however, there is an area that most people agree requires some improvement: college counseling. According to a Research Brief, published by the University of Massachusetts, many students and parents are dissatisfied with the: “…availability, quality and comprehensiveness of school counseling services related to successful college placement.” This is one area of student services, which parents should know will suffer even further harm if services-funding is cut.
The American public school system has many flaws, which will make any solution complicated. But, at the very least, it is clear that cutting student services will not be part of any effective, progressive action.
~ Brianna Meiers