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A Look at School Counseling in Texas

The state of school counseling in Texas provides a fascinating case study on modern issues in the profession. As detailed below, the intensive requirements and responsibilities of school counselors in Texas, coupled with inadequate funding and subpar counselor-to-student ratios, might lead many counselors with advanced qualifications to seek work in other states. Yet Texas’ stringent requirements for school counselors brings up an intriguing point: They demonstrate high expectations and a proactive, progressive approach to modern school counseling.

This difficult situation offers a unique opportunity for those with the required graduate degree from an accredited university program like Lamar University’s online Master of Education in School Counseling. And, clearly, Texas schools are in dire need of professional school counselors with the necessary education, training and experience.

Statistics and Facts about School Counselors in Texas

Here are a few requirements, details, and concerns about the state of school counseling in Texas:

  • School counselors are required to have two years of teaching experience, complete a required entrance exam, hold a master’s degree from an accredited institution, and complete an approved Educator Preparation Program (EPP) in school counseling.
  • Funding earmarked for school counselors is disappearing.
  • Many schools cannot afford to have a counselor on staff.
  • Schools that do have counselors on staff have high counselor-to-student ratios, the statewide average being one counselor for over 400 students (the American School Counselor Association’s recommendation is a minimum of one counselor for every 250 students).
  • Larger districts and disadvantaged communities often have counselor-to-student ratios that are even worse. Houston, for example has an average ratio of one counselor for every 700 students.
  • With massive education spending cuts in 2011, school counselor workloads multiplied.
  • With the passage of House Bill 5 in 2013, counselor responsibilities increased even further, involving much more complex requirements for student college and career preparation.

So What Are Some Positive Aspects of School Counseling in Texas?

Although school counseling in Texas may seem to be in dire straits, the actionable requirements involved are in line with redefining the role of the modern professional school counselor (as opposed to the antiquated “guidance counselor”). In addition to college and career planning, Texas school counselors are required teach students basic life skills and coping strategies, educate school personnel in the guidance curriculum, and develop a holistic system of support by engaging teachers, parents and the community.

What Are School Counselors and Administrators in Texas Doing to Cope With the Difficult Environment?

In order to fulfill the challenging role of the professional school counselor in Texas, people need to be competent, well-trained, and, above all else, creative and innovative. At one point, a school counselor named Hossein Mazharian was the only counselor at Reagan High School in Houston, responsible for the guidance of around 2,000 students. His approach? He conducted massive, proactive student education programs in positive thinking, life skills and coping strategies. In addition, he worked closely with a team of administrative staff, delegating the counseling responsibilities and creating a system of guidance and support throughout the school. In turn, district administrators sourced out funding from various corners of school budgets to hire and train new counseling staff.

While the school counseling situation in Texas isn’t ideal, it is an example of making the best of resources available as well as developing new ones. School counselors are especially needed in places like Texas where their presence is rare and their time spread thin. And in these environments, well-educated and experienced counselors can also make a huge difference, laying the groundwork for more effective and widespread professional school counseling in years to come.

Learn more about Lamar University’s online M.Ed. in School Counseling program.


San Antonio Express News: Texas Law Piling Work on School Counselors — Lots of It

Houston Chronicle: In Need of Guidance: Students Need More Help Than Ever. But Texas Schools Skimp on Counselors.

Houston Public Media: How One Counselor in Texas Advises Hundreds of Students

Texas Counseling Association: Professional School Counselors

Texas Education Agency: Student Services Certificates

American School Counselor Association: State School Counseling Mandates and Legislation

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