I appreciate the efforts initiated by Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, to decrease high school dropout rates as part of her proposed HB 1424. However, hiring graduation coaches is not the solution. These positions would be filled by individuals unqualified to serve the varied and unique needs of students at risk of dropping out.
Professional school counselors are specialists in students’ developmental and educational needs, and we work diligently every day to decrease high school dropout rates. We have advanced degrees and specialize in working with all students, especially those at risk of school failure. We develop programs and evaluate data in our constant efforts to decrease high school dropout rates.
The American School Counselor Association recommends a school counselor to student ratio of 1:250. Hiring one graduation coach per 500 students is not the solution to the problem. Professional school counselors assist students in grades K-12 with attendance, behavior and academics, as well as a myriad of additional concerns. We are specialists in our field, and graduation coaches are not.
Prioritizing students’ needs means maintaining and supporting school counselor positions in all buildings. It does not mean hiring additional positions to be filled by individuals unqualified to appropriately serve students’ needs. Graduation coaches are an unnecessary expense.