Ratio of Students to Pupil Support Service Personnel
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Learn More About Pupil Support Service Personnel

Measures of Pupil Support Service Personnel on Kidsdata.org
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:

Pupil Support Service Personnel
Bullying and Harassment at School
Demographics
Demographics of Children with Special Needs
College Eligibility
Early Care and Education
High School Graduation
English Learners
Math Proficiency
Health Care
Reading Proficiency
School Safety
School Connectedness
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

Pupil services personnel, such as counselors and nurses, often provide critical support needed for student success, particularly for students with physical, emotional, or behavioral problems. Yet with increasingly limited school resources, policymakers face difficult decisions about levels of non-teaching staff. These personnel meet student needs that otherwise may fall to administrators and teachers to address, or may not be addressed at all. Research has shown that school counselors can improve student achievement and reduce disciplinary problems, including bullying (1, 2); school health care professionals provide care for children of all ages, and accessible sexual and reproductive health care for teens (3, 4, 5).

According to research and subject experts, policy options that could ensure adequate and quality 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)
  • Promoting the delivery of health services at school by funding school nurses and school-based and school-linked health centers. (Note: the Affordable Care Act allocates $30 million for California to build or remodel school based health centers) (3, 4, 5)
  • 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 (5).

For more research to inform policy on pupil support services personnel, visit the Research & Links section on this page and the California Department of Education, the California School Counseling Research Interest Network, 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, Truancy, and School Connectedness.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Lapan, R., & Harrington, K. (2010). Paving the road to college: How school counselors help students succeed. (2010). Amherst, M.A.: Center for School Counseling Outcome Research at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Retrieved from: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED512568

2.  Curtis, R., et al. (2010). Outcomes of a school-wide positive behavioral support program. Professional School Counseling, American School Counselor Association. Retrieved from: http://www.biomedsearch.com/article/Outcomes-school-wide-positive-behavioral/219518278.html

3.  National Association of School Nurses. (2011). Role of the school nurse. Retrieved from: http://www.nasn.org/PolicyAdvocacy/PositionPapersandReports/NASNPositionStatementsFullView/tabid/462/ArticleId/87/Role-of-the-School-Nurse-Revised-2011

4.  California School Health Centers Association. (2011). School-based health centers: Proven impact on learning. Retrieved from: http://cshca.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/SBHCs_Proven_Impact_Learning.pdf

5.  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

 

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