Linda Sánchez Introduces Two Pieces of Legislation in Support of America’s School Counselors

February 7, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Representative Linda Sánchez (CA-38), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the Ways and Means Committee, today introduced two pieces of legislation to honor the hard work of school counselors across the country. The first bill would make the week of February 6, 2017 "National School Counselors Week." The second bill, Put School Counselors Where They’re Needed Act, would create a demonstration project to fund additional secondary school counselors aimed at reducing the drop-out rate in at-risk schools.

Rep. Linda Sánchez statement: “School counselors play an important role in the lives of young students. These role models help shape the futures of millions of high school students across the country and help set them on the path toward success. However, because the average counselor-to-student ratio is nearly double what’s recommended, many school counselors are unable to provide the support and guidance each student deserves. This legislation will help ensure our children have the support they need to achieve a quality education and honors the hard work done by school counselors to make our future brighter.”

Put School Counselors Where They’re Needed Act Background

Congresswoman Sánchez is a leading advocate for the importance of school counselors in America’s high schools. She has been the author of the “Put School Counselors Where They’re Needed Act” which provides funding for additional counselors in high schools with high drop-out rates.

The current counselor-to-student ratio in America's schools is 471 to one, which is nearly double the 250 to one ratio recommended by the American School Counselors Association and the National Association for College Admissions. In California, the need is even greater. In California the counselor-to-student ratio is one for every 822 students.

Legislative Overview:  Current federal law provides federal support to promote school and student improvement, but does not comprehensively and expressly focus on addressing the present day national need for more high school counselors.  This legislation would amend Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, to create a demonstration project to fund additional secondary school counselors aimed at reducing the drop-out rate in at-risk schools.

Grants would be made available, on a competitive basis, to a minimum of ten secondary schools from at least five different states that receive funds under Title I of the Education Act.  In order to qualify, the school must have a four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate of 60 percent or lower.  The grant will be for a four-year period and may be used to provide additional school counselors as well as additional resources for existing school counselors.  Funds for this act are meant to supplement, not supplant, funds from non-federal sources.  The additional counselors provided through these funds must be in addition to any employees already working in the secondary school guidance or counseling office. Authorizes $5,000,000 for each of the next four fiscal years.

Additional school counselors would be responsible for identifying students at risk of not graduating in four years and working with these students in need.  These counselors would be encouraged to identify such students before they enter grade nine, but are permitted to identify students at-risk at any time. 

Counseling services would be provided as long as necessary.  Services under this Act may include developing a graduation plan, course placement advice, and providing tutoring with supplemental books and materials.  Services would also include scheduled meetings with not just the student at-risk, but also the teachers, tutors, parents, and other relevant individuals (i.e. the probation officer, employer, or coach of each student).