Download & Other Tools
- Definition: Ratio of public school students to pupil support personnel, such as counselors, psychologists, librarians, social workers, nurses, and speech/language/hearing specialists. Smaller numbers indicate that students have greater access to support service personnel.
- Data Source: California Department of Education, California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS) Staff Assignment and Course Data. Accessed at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/sd/df/filesassign.as and
http://data1.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/ (May 2013).
- Footnote: Years presented are the final year of a school year (e.g., 2011-2012 is shown as 2012). Pupil services personnel providing multiple support services are counted only once, to avoid duplication. Full- and part-time staff are counted equally. Zero values are shown for jurisdictions with no pupil service personnel. LNE (Low Number Event) refers to data that have been suppressed because there were fewer than 20 students enrolled. N/A means that data are not available.
- Bullying and Harassment at School
- Any Reason For Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Any Bias-Related Reason For Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Disability as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Gender as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Race or National Origin as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Religion as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Sexual Orientation as Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Other Non-Specified Reason for Bullying/Harassment, by Grade Level
- Child Care
- Annual Cost of Child Care, by Age Group and Type of Facility
- Availability of Child Care for Potential Demand
- Availability of Child Care, by Facility's Schedule and Type of Facility
- Number of Child Care Slots in Licensed Facilities, by Type of Facility
- Number of Licensed Child Care Facilities, by Type of Facility
- Parent Requests for Child Care, by Age
- Parent Requests for Evening/Weekend/Overnight Child Care
- Parent Reports of Affordable Child Care Options (Available for Limited Regions)
- Child Population
- Public School Enrollment
- Total Population
- Demographics of Children with Special Needs
- College Eligibility
- High School Dropouts
- English Learners
- Math Proficiency
- Pupil Support Service Personnel
- Health Care
- Reading Proficiency
- School Safety
- Perceptions of School Safety, by Grade Level
- Fear of Being Beaten Up at School, by Grade Level
- Physical Fighting at School, by Grade Level
- Carrying a Gun at School, by Grade Level
- Carrying a Knife or Other Weapon at School, by Grade Level
- Parent Perceptions of Emotional Health
- School Connectedness
- Caring Adults at School, by Grade Level
- High Expectations from Teachers and Others, by Grade Level
- Meaningful Participation at School, by Grade Level
- Total School Assets, by Grade Level
- School Connectedness, by Grade Level
- Truancy, Suspensions & Expulsions
- Why This Topic Is Important
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 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:
1. 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
2. California Department of Education. (2011). CalEd facts: School counseling programs. Retrieved from: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/cg/mc/cefschoolcounsel.asp.
3. National Association of School Psychologists. (n.d.). What is a School Psychologist? Retrieved from: http://www.nasponline.org/about_sp/whatis.aspx
4. 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
5. 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
- How Children Are Faring
The statewide ratio of students to pupil support service personnel has fluctuated, but improved overall in the last decade, from 311 public school students per support personnel in 1998 to 236 students per personnel in 2012.
Counselors are among the most common type of pupil support personnel in the state. In 2012, public school districts across California employed 7,399 full-time equivalent counselors, up from 5,592 in 1998. However, the ratio of students to counselors, 841:1 in 2012, is far worse than the American Counseling Association's recommended ratio of 250 students per counselor.
Although the number of school nurses and the ratio of nurses to students had been steadily improving since 1998, the pattern reversed in 2011 and 2012. The ratio of students to nurses, 2,815:1 in 2012, does not meet 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.
- Policy Implications
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 Eligibility, Children with Special Health Care Needs, Bullying/Harassment at School, Teen Births, Teen Sexual Health, Health Care, and School Connectedness.
Sources for this narrative:
1. 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
2. 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
3. American Counseling Association. (2008). Effectiveness of school counseling.
4. 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
5. 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
6. 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
- Websites with Related Information
- Key Reports
- 2011 National Survey of School Counselors: Counseling at a Crossroads, The College Board National Office for School Counselor Advocacy
- Connecting Families, Schools, and Community Resources, National Human Service Assembly
- Do Lower Student to Counselor Ratios Reduce School Disciplinary Problems?, Contributions to Economic Analysis and Policy
- Focus on the Wonder Years: Challenges Facing the American Middle School, RAND
- Health at School: A Hidden Health Care System Emerges from the Shadows, Health Affairs
- Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in Efforts to Close the Achievement Gap, Equity Matters: Research Review No. 6. The Campaign for Educational Equity
- Realizing the Promise of the Whole-School Approach to Children’s Mental Health: A Practical Guide for Schools, National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention
- Research on the Relationship Between Mental Health and Academic Achievement, National Association of School Psychologists
- School-Based Health Centers: Improving Access and Quality of Care for Low-Income Adolescents, Pediatrics
- Using Coordinated School Health to Promote Mental Health for All Students, National Assembly on School-Based Health Care
- County/Regional Reports
- San Francisco Bay Area Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Youth Health Status Report, Asian and Pacific Islander Bay Area Health Council
- Santa Clara County Children’s Agenda: Indicators of Child Health and Well-Being (Data Book), Kids in Common
- School-Based Counseling for Preteens in San Mateo County, Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health
- The Developmental Assets Survey: Young People Talk About Growing Up in Silicon Valley, Project Cornerstone