school counselor with young student

School Counselor Corps Grant Program Evaluation

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Nationally, COVID-19 has highlighted the instability of relying on a small number of school counselors to guide hundreds of students through changing academic hurdles, prepare them for an uncertain future, and triage increasing mental health challenges. Colorado has one of the lower students-per-counselor ratios nationally—with 295 students per counselor in the 2019-20 school year—in part because of the state’s long-term investment in the School Counselor Corps Grant Program. This grant program not only aims to decrease the school counselor to student ratio, but create culture change in schools that promotes asset-based and data-driven approaches to improving educational attainment.

National research shows that effective school counseling has a dramatic impact on the academic success of students. Low-income students are more likely to attend college if they meet frequently with a school counselor who supports their postsecondary goals. Students attending high schools with effective school counseling programs earn higher grades and receive more postsecondary-related information, which improves enrolling and persisting in postsecondary education.

The Colorado Lab is beginning an in-depth study of Colorado’s School Counselor Corps Grant Program (SCCGP) to assess the impacts of SCCGP on program outcomes at the elementary, middle school, high school, and postsecondary educational levels. The evaluation is designed to inform how school counseling program resources and intersecting pathways and practices—such as work-based learning—can advance progress toward equitable academic and postsecondary success for all students. This includes how the program can help to strengthen systems and effectively support student achievement so the pressure isn’t only on a relatively small number of counselors.

Throughout the multi-year evaluation, findings will inform policy and practice decision-making and ensure data-informed strategic investments in Colorado’s educational system. To learn more, contact Dr. Elysia Clemens.