IDRA Releases Study of the Role of Middle School Counselors in Supporting Students’ College Readiness
The Texas Legislature ended the previous graduation requirements commonly known as the 4×4 that required Texas students to graduate with four courses each in math, English, social studies and science. Students are no longer required to take rigorous courses including Algebra 2 that prepare them for college. The policy also states that students must choose an “endorsement” – in essence, their future career path – in eighth grade.
Those changes put middle school counselors in a heightened role of advising young students to make long-term decisions about their educational careers.
The majority of middle school counselors reported to IDRA that they spend at least 75% of their time performing tasks that have nothing to do with college and career counseling. Nearly all counselors interviewed were skeptical that eighth grade students are developmentally ready to choose a career path. Counselors are trying to support them with little to no resources. The American School Counselor Association recommends that schools have a counselor-to-student ratio of 1 to 250. In Texas, the average is 1 to 390.
The following recommendations to Texas policymakers reflect our analysis of counselor responses and relevant research:
- Address counseling time and funding so that middle school counselors can better serve students, including reducing counselor-to-teacher ratios;
- Address issues of equity to prepare middle school and high school counselors to support all students’ college readiness and to address racial-ethnic and socio-economic disparities;
- Provide counselors with data on college readiness, success and endorsement outcomes;
- Equip counselors to engage with families in navigating the system for students’ college preparation and access and with their community to leverage community resources and knowledge; and
- Prepare all students for college.
Greater Texas Foundation funded this study, which follows IDRA’s 2018 report, also funded by the foundation, that found rural school districts had a 24% drop in students taking Algebra 2.
Infographic: More Ready Texas with Middle School Counselors
Data dashboard: Math and Science Course Offerings in Texas
Infographic from IDRA’s earlier study showing rural districts lost 24% in Algebra II enrollment
Infographic: Math and College Readiness