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Improvements in Counselor-to-Student Ratios

Female teacher explaining lesson to small group of students

In recent years, there has been a noticeable improvement in the ratio of school counselors to students across the United States. However, the expiration of federal relief funds has caused uncertainty on whether these gains can be sustained. 

A recent Education Week article Counselor-to-Student Ratios Show Improvement, But Looming Fiscal Cliff May Threaten Gains sheds light on this positive trend and the challenges that lie ahead for school districts. 

Data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics shows a steady improvement in counselor-to-student ratios over a nine-year period. Nationally, the ratio improved by more than 5 percent, with schools providing one counselor to 385 students in the 2022-23 school year, compared to 408 students per counselor the previous year.  This improvement underscores a concerted effort to prioritize student mental health and well-being. 

The progress in counselor-to-student ratios has been attributed to the allocation of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.  As these funds expire, school districts are faced with the challenge of sustaining these gains with financial constraints.   

The Texas Counseling Association (TCA), Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP), Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) recommend a ratio of one counselor for every 350 students. While this benchmark provides a guideline, districts must analyze their budgets and prioritize student needs when determining counseling ratios. 

Moving forward, districts should continue to focus on student well-being and allocate resources accordingly, even in the absence of federal relief funds. 

More information on staffing guidelines can be found in the TASB HR Services Resource Library — Campus Administration and Support Staffing (member login required).

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Shannon Burns
Shannon Burns
HR Consultant

Shannon Burns joined HR Services in 2023 as an HR consultant. She has 22 years of experience in public school districts serving as an executive director of human resources, special programs coordinator, campus administrator, and teacher.

Burns earned her master’s degree from Texas A&M in Kingsville and her superintendent certificate from The University of Texas at Tyler.

HR Services

TASB HR Services supports HR leadership in Texas schools through membership offerings in specialized training, consulting, and other services.
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