School Collaborates with Community Organizations to Address Youth Problems (Staff Reported)
Definition: Percentage of responses by public school staff on the extent to which they agree their school collaborates well with community organizations to help address substance use or other problems among youth, by type of school (e.g., in 2015-2017, 20.6% of responses by high school staff in California reported strong agreement that their school collaborates well with community organizations to address youth problems).
Footnote: Years presented comprise two school years (e.g., 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years are shown as 2015-2017). This question was asked of all surveyed staff in the 2011-12 school year. In school years 2012-13 and later, only staff reporting responsibility for services or instruction related to health, prevention, discipline, counseling, or safety were asked to respond. Data are unweighted. K-12 schools are classified according to the grade levels with greatest enrollment (e.g., schools with more students in the elementary grades than in the middle or high school grades are classified as elementary schools). Students in non-traditional programs are those enrolled in community day schools or continuation education. The notation S refers to data that have been suppressed because (a) there were fewer than 5 respondents in that group, or (b) the sample was too small to be representative. N/A means that data are not available.
Learn More About Pupil Support Services
Measures of Pupil Support Services on Kidsdata.org
Kidsdata.org provides the number of and ratio of students to full-time equivalent pupil support service personnel, by type of personnel. Pupil support service personnel include school counselors, librarians, nurses, psychologists, psychometrists, resource specialists, social workers, language specialists, special education personnel, and others.
Pupil support services address students' social, emotional, behavioral, physical, and cognitive needs to help them reach their maximum academic and health potential (1, 2, 3). The availability of an array of pupil support personnel reflects a school's capacity to meet a wide range of student needs. For example, school counselors often help students learn coping, conflict-resolution, and goal-setting skills that are critical to future success (1). Counselors also provide immediate support during crises and referrals to other services as needed. School psychologists provide some of these same services and also offer mental health counseling, identify learning challenges, and assist teachers in tailoring instruction accordingly (4). Speech/language/hearing and resource specialists provide direct service and case management for students with specific disabilities (5, 6). Nurses manage the daily health needs of students, which may include providing basic health care and screenings, connecting students to health care resources, and helping students manage chronic health conditions, among other responsibilities (3). Nurses and other student support staff help ensure that children are healthy and have the support they need to be successful learners (1, 3). These support services play an important role in creating a positive school climate, which is linked to improved student behavior and academic achievement (2, 3, 7).
For more information on pupil support services, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
In 2019, public school districts in California employed one full-time equivalent counselor for every 626 students, a psychologist for every 1,041 students, a speech/language/hearing specialist for every 1,093 students, a nurse for every 2,410 students, and a social worker for every 7,308 students. As in previous years, 2019 data for counties and school districts show wide variation in student access to support personnel.
Statewide trends since 2011 show overall improvement in the ratio of students to every type of pupil support personnel for which data are available. Still, 2019 figures fall short of recommendations from the American School Counselor Association (250 students per counselor), the National Association of School Psychologists (500-700 students per psychologist), and the National Association of Social Workers (250 students per social worker).
When asked whether their school provides adequate counseling and support services for students, 27% of responses by elementary school staff, 33% of responses by middle school staff, 32% of responses by high school staff, and 46% of responses by staff at non-traditional schools reported strong agreement in 2015-2017.
Pupil support services, such as those provided by school counselors and nurses, can be critical to student success, particularly for students with physical, emotional, or behavioral problems. Yet with limited school resources and numerous demands, policymakers face difficult decisions about the priority of non-teaching staff. Pupil support service personnel meet student needs that otherwise may fall to administrators and teachers to address, or may not be addressed at all. Access to school counselors, school nurses, and school-based health services can be linked to positive learning environments and improved student behavior, engagement, and academic achievement (1, 2, 3). These support services are especially critical now that California law requires school districts to address student engagement and school climate among other priorities (1).
Policy and program options that could improve student access to quality support services include:
Maximizing partnerships and existing funding streams, such as California's Local Control Funding Formula and the Mental Health Services Act, to ensure that students have access to school counseling and other mental health services, and promoting the use of research-based techniques to target specific student outcomes (1, 2, 4)
Promoting the delivery of health care services at school by funding school nurses and school-based health centers; as with mental health services, public funding streams can be leveraged to expand health care at schools—e.g., using Medicaid funds for school health services (1, 5, 6)
Integrating student mental health and health care services into a coordinated and comprehensive system of supports; a key aspect of such a system includes engaging school staff (teachers, administrators, etc.), students, parents, and the community (7, 8)
7. Center for Mental Health in Schools and Student/Learning Supports. (n.d.). System change toolkit: Transforming student supports into a unified, comprehensive, equitable system for addressing barriers to learning and teaching. Retrieved from: http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/summit2002/resourceaids.htm