Education

Feb 18, 2011 7:22 PM by Carolyn Cerda

Role of Counselors

An educational committee in Baton Rouge is pushing for new guidelines to better define the role of school counselors. The Blue Ribbon Commission for Educational Excellence is a group of teachers, lawmakers, superintendents, business leaders and college faculty. They tackle school issues, finding solutions to the problems and present their findings to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state Board of Regents. This year, they're focusing on how to improve school counselors.

"So often, administrators get busy, they're short handed and so they give various jobs, other than counseling to counselors," said Glenny Lee Buquet, co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission. "They become the testing coordinators or teacher fill-in. All of those things interrupt their real role as counselors. Our aim with this is to make sure counselors can do their job."

The commission is discussing ways to get counselors away from clerical work, such as registration, scheduling and testing, and back to guiding students in their educational and career paths.

"We want students to achieve post secondary goals, whatever it may be," said Beverly Breaux, Coordinator for Counseling Services for Lafayette Parish Schools. "To be able to do that, we need counselors to provide maximum time with direct services to students."

Breaux says her advisors are happy to hear about the recent push.

"We are encouraged," said Breaux. "We are encouraged that they're looking at our roles and job descriptions and thinking about how we can have the most impact on student success."

Other than defining the role of a counselor, the commission will also look into how they are trained, certified and evaluated. They say counselors should be required to take the most effective courses while in college, and should have the best certification because they are guiding students on important decisions.

"The counselor is the pivotal role," said Debbie Schum with the Louisiana Department of Education. "It is a key focus because they are the one individual that has direct contact with the student and their family about what their plans are going to be."

The commission will have its recommendations ready for BESE and the Board of Regents in May. If approved by these boards, they could go into effect as soon as this fall.

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