School Counselors Now Official Name

A new bill in the Virginia House was  passed that could increase the success rates of students.

House Bill 1729 officially changed the title Guidance Counselor to School Counselor and now requires counselors to spend 80% of their time doing direct counseling services like individual or group counseling, according to official documents.

“Students with more access to school counselors are more likely to succeed academically and be able to deal with life outside of the classroom,” said Liz Parker, a coordinator of school counseling programs for Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools.

Mrs. Lauren Horne, a school counselor at Chatham High School, is hoping  this law will take the burdens of testing, completing state reports, and data entry off of Virginia school counselors and allow them to engage with their students so that the students can be more successful.

“Student success is very important to me,” said Mrs. Horne.

“We will have to wait and see how Pittsylvania County responds to this bill. Much change, like hiring test coordinators, will have to occur to allow us more time for direct counseling, and our budget restricts that,” she said.

“The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends a ratio of 250-to-1. My ratio with seniors is 155-to-1, which is more than ideal.  Mr. Clarridge’s is 300-1 because he is responsible for two grades [sophomores and juniors], which is less than ideal,’ Mrs. Horne said.

“Our primary role is to address academic, social, and emotional needs of students. We not only help students achieve academically, we help them address behavioral and personal issues that might impact their ability to learn. We also assist with college and career planning. My personal hope is that each of my students will feel prepared to take the next step in life after high school, whether it be college, the military, or the workforce,” said Mrs. Horne.