The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) compiled this report in 2018 to provide a glimpse at the 10-year trends in student-to-counselor ratios from 2004-05 to 2014-15, the latest school years for which data is available. The data was downloaded from the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) Common Core of Data (CCD) (https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/). This data is submitted to the CCD by state departments of education on an annual basis.
Both NACAC and ASCA advocate for more state and federal funding to hire, train, and equip school counselors in public schools. Our intention in producing this data is to shed light on the often unmanageable caseloads public school counselors must serve. Research shows that access to a school counselor can make a significant difference in student persistence/retention, students’ postsecondary aspirations, and students’ likelihood of enrolling in postsecondary education. To realize such results, school counselors must operate in an environment free of overwhelmingly large student caseloads. In addition to a high national student-to-counselor ratio (482:1), the federal government must take into account widely varying ratios among the states. Inequitable access to school counselors across the states suggests a federal role in equipping all students, regardless of their state of residence, with the resources they need to succeed.
States, which design and fund the bulk of K-12 education in the United States, must also increase their investment to ensure the full benefit of school counseling programs. ASCA recommends that schools strive to maintain a 250:1 student-to-counselor ratio. In this analysis, only three states (New Hampshire, Vermont, and Wyoming) maintain a ratio lower than 250:1.