Stephanie Crandell of the Indiana School Counselor Association tells lawmakers about the added responsibilities of school counselors Thursday at a meeting of Indiana's Interim Study Committee on Education Issues. CNHI News Indiana photo by Whitney Downard
Stephanie Crandell of the Indiana School Counselor Association tells lawmakers about the added responsibilities of school counselors Thursday at a meeting of Indiana's Interim Study Committee on Education Issues. CNHI News Indiana photo by Whitney Downard
INDIANAPOLIS — The average Hoosier school counselor has nearly double the workload recommended by the American School Counselor Association, bearing the responsibility for 497 students.

Nationwide, the vast majority of school counselors have far more than the recommended 250 students and are responsible for each student’s social and emotional well-being, academic learning and college or career preparation.

The Interim Study Committee on Education Issues heard Thursday from counselor Stephanie Crandell of the Indiana School Counselor Association.

"Indiana school counselors are burdened with a host of non-counseling assignments. These assignments take away from the counseling time with students in many districts,” said Crandell, a counselor at the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. “With the new graduation pathway legislation, the workload has increased for school counselors.”

In December 2017, the Department of Education created new pathways to graduation that could be individualized for students beyond a high school diploma. Students can earn academic or technical honors designations, demonstrate employable skills or register for an apprenticeship.

Despite the increased workload, Crandell said, school counselors favor the goals of the graduation pathway but had limited resources to fulfill the requirements.

“We recommend that Indiana embrace the goal of ensuring that there is a comprehensive school counseling program at each school,” Crandell said.

She noted that her school counselor department included both a psychologist and a social worker, but not all schools had those resources.

“When talking about graduation pathways, the question always came up: Who’s going to do this? And what kind of support are we giving as legislators?” Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, said. “And it sounds like we didn’t provide much, if any. And that concerns me. Anytime we’re talking about these grand visions of how we can increase our workforce development … I’m dismayed at the amount that we’re willing to put behind it.”

Though Stoops asked about funding, Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Centerville, the chairperson of the committee, noted that the legislature had already set the budget for the next two years.

“We’ll certainly have the opportunity to put it in the recommendations,” Raatz said.

Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, asked Raatz about adding virtual schools to the agenda, noting that leadership hadn’t responded to his caucus’ request to address the “crisis.”

“To my knowledge, at this point in time, it’s not been added to the agenda,” Raatz said.

The state and federal departments of education launched an investigation this summer into two virtual schools: Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy. The state alleged that the schools “grossly exaggerated” their enrollment figures, leading to overpayment from the state.

Daleville Community Schools, which authorized the charters for both schools, will meet at 6 p.m. Monday to determine whether to revoke the virtual schools’ charters.
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