Pupil support service personnel are professionals who provide direct services to students -- but not as classroom teachers. They include counselors, psychologists, librarians, social workers, nurses, speech/language/hearing specialists, and resource specialists.
The measures on kidsdata.org include:
The availability of an array of pupil support service personnel is an indication of a school's capacity to address a wide range of student needs. Pupil support service personnel are tasked with helping students overcome social, emotional, physical, and cognitive challenges to reach their maximum academic potential (1). For example, school counselors help students learn coping, conflict-resolution, and goal-setting skills that are critical to future success, and counselors also provide immediate support during crises (2). Educational psychologists support struggling students by providing counseling, identifying learning challenges, and assisting teachers in tailoring curriculum and instruction accordingly (3). Speech/language/hearing and resource specialists provide direct service and case management for students with specific learning disabilities (4, 5). Nurses connect school children to health care resources and, in some cases, provide basic health care and screenings. These personnel work to ensure that children are healthy and have the support they need to be successful learners (2).
For more information on Pupil Support Service Personnel, please see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
- California Department of Education, Counseling and Student Support Office. (2003). Assembly Bill 722. Study of pupil personnel ratios, services, and programs. Retrieved from: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/cg/rh/documents/ab722report.pdf
- California Department of Education. (2011). CalEd facts: School counseling programs. Retrieved from: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/cg/mc/cefschoolcounsel.asp.
- National Association of School Psychologists. (n.d.). What is a School Psychologist? Retrieved from: http://www.nasponline.org/about_sp/whatis.aspx
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2010). Roles and responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists in schools. Retrieved from: http://www.asha.org/SLP/schools/prof-consult/guidelines.htm
- California Department of Education. (2011). Glossary of anonyms and frequently used terms: RSP. Retrieved from: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/lp/vl/hiperfelmnglossary.asp
With school resources becoming increasingly limited, policymakers face difficult decisions about levels of non-teaching staff, such as counselors or nurses. These pupil services personnel often provide critical support needed for student success, particularly for students with physical, emotional, or behavioral problems. These personnel meet student needs that otherwise may fall to administrators and teachers to address. Research has shown that school counselors can improve student achievement and reduce disciplinary problems (1, 2, 3), and school health care services provide access to care for children of all ages and more accessible sexual and reproductive health care to teens (4, 5).
According to research and subject experts, policy options that could increase pupil support include:
- Maintaining funding for adequate numbers of school counselors, and promoting use of research-based techniques to target specific student outcomes, such as social skills (1, 2, 3)
- Promoting the delivery of health services at school by funding school nurses and school-based and school-linked health centers (4, 5, 6)
- Integrating student mental health into a coordinated student health model that includes a range of health services, healthy school environment, health promotion for staff, and parent/community involvement (6)
For more research to inform policy on school counselors, visit the Research & Links section on this page and the California Department of Education and look for research results from the California School Counseling Research Interest Network. For information on school health personnel, visit the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools and the California School Nurses Association. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under College Readiness, Children with Special Health Care Needs, Bullying/Harassment at School, Teen Pregnancy, Teen Sexual Health, Health Care, and School Connectedness.
Sources for this narrative:
- Carrell, S. E., & Carrell, S. A. (2006). Do lower student to counselor ratios reduce school disciplinary problems? Contributions to Economic Analysis & Policy, 5(1), Article 11. Retrieved from: http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/scarrell/counselors2.pdf
- Webb, L. D., Brigman, G. A., & Campbell, C. (2005). Linking school counselors and student success: A replication of the student success skills approach targeting the academic and social competence of students. Professional School Counseling, 8(5), 407-413. Retrieved from: http://www.studentsuccessskills.com/Webb,%20Brigman,%20and%20Campbell%2005.pdf
- American Counseling Association. (2008). Effectiveness of school counseling. Retrieved from: http://www.counseling.org/Files/FD.ashx?guid=c051cc74-f3cc-4a59-9d81-770b5a4ab073
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on School Health. (2008). Policy statement: Role of the school nurse in providing school health services. Retrieved from: http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/pediatrics;121/5/1052.pdf
- Allison, M. A., Crane, L. A., Beaty, B. L., Davidson, A. J. et al. (2007). School-based health centers: Improving access and quality of care for low-income adolescents. Pediatrics, 120(4), e887-894. Retrieved from: http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/120/4/e887
- Hurwitz, L., & Weston, K. (2010). Using coordinated school health to promote mental health for all students. National Assembly on School-Based Health Care. Retrieved from: http://www.nasbhc.org/atf/cf/%7bcd9949f2-2761-42fb-bc7a-cee165c701d9%7d/white%20paper%20csh%20and%20mh%20final.pdf
According to the California Department of Education, the statewide ratio of students to pupil support service personnel has improved over the last decade, from 311 public school students per support personnel in 1998 to 222 students per personnel in 2011.
Counselors are among the most common type of pupil support personnel in the state. In 2009, school districts across California employed 9,361 full-time equivalent counselors, up from 5,592 in 1998. However, the ratio of students to counselors, 668:1 in 2009, was far worse than the American Counseling Association's recommended ratio of 250 students per counselor.
The ratio of students to school nurses also improved slightly from 1998 to 2009, though the ratio of students to nurses, 2,035:1, greatly exceeds the 750:1 ratio recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Student access to all types of pupil support service personnel varies widely across counties and school districts in the state.