Counselors Taking on More Students Nationally (Plus, High School Staffing in SPS)

This article about high school counselors in the NY Times parallels what is happening in Seattle high schools. Last year the district cut funding for Career Center counselors at the high schools. (Some SPS high schools may have paid out of other places in their budgets to retain career counselors; Roosevelt did not. We have parents trying to fill in.) In SPS, the Career Centers offer help with all aspects of going to college, vocational ed, career search, job search and volunteer work to fulfill the graduation requirement for 60 hours of community service.

From the article:

"Nearly half of public schools have raised the caseloads of high school counselors this year, compared with last year, with the average increase exceeding 53 students, according to a study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. At the same time, the report said, the pressures on applicants (and, by extension, their counselors) are growing, as the number of applications to four-year colleges continued to rise, along with the number of students applying to colleges under early-decision programs."

Relief might be coming for those counselors but it may be short-term (so elementary parents listen up).

"And yet the report included some indications that the pressures on applicants could soon ease. The number of students graduating from high school annually is believed to have peaked this spring, at 3.33 million, according to the report, so competition for places in colleges should diminish over the next few years.

However, "the nation’s collective high school graduating class “is projected to rebound to 3.31 million by 2017-18,” the report said."

I interrupt here to change course a bit. When writing this thread I thought I'd check each high school on the counselor issue and had a "what the heck" experience. First, I found out that only Roosevelt and Ingraham have no Career Counselor. Second, I found the oddest job names which I could not decipher. Here are some interesting things about our high schools and their staffing:
  • Rainier Beach has 1 Counselor and 1 Career Center counselor
  • West Seattle, Garfield, and Hale have 4 counselors plus a Career Center counselor
  • Franklin and Ingraham have 3 counselors but no CC counselor
  • Franklin has a lot of people who work under the title of Special Services (some are IAs but others??)
  • Center School has 1 counselor and one CC counselor
  • Nova has no website so I don't know
  • Sealth has 2 CC counselors and 3 counselors
  • Cleveland has a huge number of people who work there (for the size of the school - how do they pay them all?). I'm not sure from the listings how many counselors they have but they do have a CC counselor. They also have a former principal working there under the title of "moving consultant".
Hey and kudos to Chief Sealth: they are having a parent-teacher conference day (noon-7:30) on October 28th. It is almost unheard of to have these in high school. My only question is that the 28th is only a 2-hour early release day - are they taking the rest of the day just for the conferences? If so, that's a pretty bold use of the time (and I'm sure the kids are thrilled).

(Update: I forgot to add that Sealth added 150 new students this year. Wow, something is working there - IB, maybe? That's a big addition for any one school.)

Honestly, you cannot go by what your school does and measure it against other schools. I assumed that when Roosevelt lost its career counselor, the other high schools did as well. (I know that principals can juggle budgets as they see fit but I really thought the number of Career Counselors would be far fewer.)


hschinske said…
Garfield just lost their career counselor, didn't they?

Helen Schinske
Michael Rice said…

RBHS does not have a Career Counselor this year. We did have one last year.
SPS parent said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
I'm just going by what's on the websites. I assumed all had lost their Career Counselor so I was surprised to see so many schools with them. Maybe they don't keep their websites up-to-date.

The things listed done at Hale are still happening in the other high schools but the actual helping with the forms/counseling/career guidance is being done by parents at Roosevelt. Needless to say, most of us just help with resumes and essays as we aren't trained college counselors.
SolvayGirl said…
Only slightly off topic, but there are a number of websites that offer info on college scholarships—some can be applied for while the students are early on in high school (minimum age is 14). A personal favorite is
SPS parent said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
SPS parent said…
Yikes, I was just shocked to find out that Hale lost their career counselor last year too....

The counseling secretary is the person who has been sending out info and updating the college calendar this year!

We get massive amounts of college info from Hale: community service opportunities, 2 or 3 college visits a week, SAT classes, college essay writing classes, financial aid classes, invitations to join programs like LEEP and ACE, help for students navigating and preparing college applications, and scholarships.....

That's alot! Our counselors are earning their keep aren't they!
Lynne Cohee said…
What I find interesting is that there are so many staff people downtown (and outside consultants) working on "college readiness" issues, but there isn't funding for career center counselors out in the high schools.

FYI to those interested in curriculum alignment, the district has now posted on its website the powerpoint materials presented at last month's board workshop on curriculum alignment. It includes a 26-page report from Education First, the consultants hired per the board's approval in June. The powerpoints also show that the district has scheduled "community engagement meetings" on alignment for November 23, 24, and 30 and December 1. I haven't seen these dates posted elsewhere -- maybe I've missed them.

I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but of course these dates are the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Hmmmm.
Jet City mom said…
Garfield has one Counselor also performing the duties of a Career counselor- you are right, they lost their long time Career Counselor. ( I looked up by Staff listings)
Central Mom said…
Sorry about off-topic, but Melissa, could you start another thread pls. along the lines of "Enlightenment!!!! (NOT!). I was just looking at the SAP FAQ. And kudos to the District, they're trying to keep up w/ questions they're hearing circulated in the community.

But the answers are really something. Look under Optional Schools. Lots of NEW! info just posted. Look at Why Is South Shore an Opt School. Look at Why Aren't Mont and Int Schools Opt schools. The answer is basically...because we don't want them to be. Oh, and we'd have to redraw the boundaries to make them such. Well, DUH. That's exactly what this feedback time is for, is it not? To fix things before they're set in stone. More rants to come if you start a new thread.
dan dempsey said…
Hey that "NEWS" lawsuit is rolling right along and the lack of state funding for adequate counseling came up as one of many deficiencies that need correction.

Go get 'em Thomas Ahearne.

From the trial:
Article IX preamble

It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

Ample education for all is NOT being funded.
SPS parent said…
And how will this "shortage" of councilors affect schools that are growing (Hale, Hamilton) into new buildings? Will they add councilors to accommodate the extra couple hundred kids they will each get? or will the existing counselors have to take on the Career and College counselor duties as well as all of the new kids?
Well, Adhoc, you know that Hale doesn't want to grow (despite the size of the building they will inhabit). That's an interesting issue because both South Shore and Hale want to keep low populations because of the programs. It begs the question of why them and not other schools that would certainly love to operate at a smaller size (or even just at their built size).

Money follows kids so if Hale or Hamilton grow, they might be able to fund a position for a counselor. It's a dilemma.
SPS parent said…
Melissa I know that Hale didn't "want" to grow but they are growing. That is a fact. So your question of "why them and not other schools" is irrelevant - you can cross it off of your list and forget about it now.

Fact: After their remodel Hale will increase their enrollment from 1050 to 1250. In fact they have already begun increasing enrollment as of this year (they enrolled 312 freshman, up from 260 years past). They will continue enrolling 312 freshman each year for the next three years until the school is fully enrolled at 1250, which will coincide with the school expansion and completion of the remodel.

Melissa you have also posted that Hale does not give honors or AP credit on students HS transcripts. This is absolutely incorrect.

Fact: A Hale student who successfully completes honors or AP work, whether in an inclusive classroom or in a stand alone classroom gets credit on their report card and on their HS transcripts. Colleges recognize these "H' and "AP" designations as they would for any other school. There is no difference, and nothing punitive in having some inclusive/integrated classrooms.

Things change constantly and it would be good to check on current info before posting outdated or incorrect information.
The building is being built for 1400 students. So that's not 1250. If other schools have to fill to capacity, why not Hale and why not South Shore?

(And Adhoc, you told me to check your findings about Hale and transcripts; sorry I didn't hop to it fast enough for your satisfaction. I'll get to it. In the meantime, please respect that I have a life too and it isn't this blog.)
goeagles said…
The Cleveland info is very outdated. Chuck Chinn was our moving consultant for our school opening year only. We have no career counselor. There are a number of programs that operate at Cleveland that have counselors, but are not paid out of our district monies, such as the Achievers Scholars, Upward Bound, and the TRIO program (all college-readiness programs). Most of these programs have a staffer who visits Cleveland one or a few days a week.
Kathy Barker said…
Below is a list of career specialists at SPS: I called each school to find out, but these are moving targets as schools struggle. Garfield, for example, had counselor take over some of the career specialist duties, with parent volunteers, but the union says no and the career center is closed right now.

And “Yes” does not necessarily indicate a full-time career specialist. South Lake, for example, has only had a part-time career specialist the past few years, and this position is still part-time.

From what I heard, this was a district decision (Michael Tolley).

Ballard Yes

Garfield No

Chief Sealth Yes (1/2 time)

Center School Yes

South Lake Yes

Cleveland No

Roosevelt No

West Seattle No

Ingraham No

Rainier Beach No

Hale No


Interagency Yes (1/2 time)

Evening school No (Never had one)

Middle College No
SolvayGirl said…
Can someone explain the difference between a "Carrer Specialist" and a Counselor? Is a "career Specialist" someone who helps students determine what field of study they want to pursue after high school, and then what colleges would be good options? And, does the Career Specialist assist with college and financial aid applications?
owlhouse said…
Nova lost its College and Career Specialist last year. It was only a .2 position, but filled an incredibly valuable role at school.

This position was targeted at serving students seeking alternative post-secondary options like 'gap year' programs, apprenticeships, career and technical colleges. Additionally, they provided support to students who are the first in their families to attend college. They were a resource for finding financial aid sources as well.
(I realize I'm speaking of the position in past tense- that's just my experience.)

I remember discussion that the proposed cuts to this position would not save money as the district had proposed having the duties covered by Academic Deans, who are certified rather than classified staff- thus more expensive. Don't know how it all worked out, just remembering the many reasons for not cutting the CC Specialist positions.
owlhouse said…
And- should have clarified that yes, the CCS worked with all students in navigating college opportunities, but did additional outreach with students for whom college was not a "given".
Counselors help the kids with schedules, letters of recommendation and other academic issues. The Career Center Specialist helps

-arrange College visits (October is a boom time with sometimes two a day)
-helps with college search
-can help (or find help) with filling out applications and/or financial aid (a huge job)
-Community service opportunities
-Job opportunities
-vocational ed
- military options

Not that the person researches everything but takes in the information and has it available to the students. At RHS, the CC specialist also visited classes to talk to students.

There is also a great group called Nela Center for Student Success in Seattle that helps first-generation students (actually they help anyone who asks) get through the process. They are very nice and capable people and their center is open in the south end.

Lastly, most of the high schools have a teen health center where there are mental health counselors. (Also they give out flu shots and vaccines, sports physicals, condoms, etc. Teen Health Centers are funded by the City and are pretty important.)

So there two kinds of counselors in high school and the Career Center specialist.
Unknown said…
Kathy -- could you elaborate on the Garfield situation. I thought that the counselor with parent volunteer thing was in fact how they were trying to cover the gap. Could you explain more about why it didn't work, and what the union had to do with it?
SolvayGirl said…
Thanks for all of the explanations. It seems that these are very important positions that help all students and is not something the District should be dropping—especially because it is something the independent high schools offer, as well as a number of visits from colleges.

Knowing this in conjunction with Meg Dias' report on the costs of Central Administration just makes me so mad!
Maureen said…
Kathy, do you know any more about how it was a District decision? The list of schools that still have Career Counselors just seems so random (Ballard, Center,Sealth, Interagency). Is it that the District decided to stop funding all of them but those four principals managed to scrape together the money to rehire them?
Chief Sealth has no school for students Wednesday. Yes, they are thrilled. I'm still not really sure how they are doing this and still getting all the instructional hours in.
There is no school for students at Chief Sealth High School on Wednesday due to the parent teacher conferences. I'm not sure how they are doing this without impacting instructional hours.

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