This fall semester, the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) is rolling out the final components to a major multi-year initiative to empower secondary counselors with improved tools in helping students prepare for college.
College and Career Readiness training of counselors needs improvement.
A 2012 survey of school counselors by the College Board found the top two areas school counselors could be most effective, if given the needed support and resources were:
- The completion of a college-preparatory sequence of courses
- College application rates
School counselors are a major factor in informing students and parents on college.
A report by the Utah Foundation, presented to the Legislative Education Taskforce in 2013, found that college information counseling to students and their parents was one of six “best practice” policies employed by high-performing states. The report states:
Many students who intend to go to college do not ultimately enroll because of a lack of “college knowledge”—the understanding of college options, admissions criteria, how to prepare academically, and how to access the financial resources needed to attend.
College and Career Readiness Certificate established.
In 2013, the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) worked with the Utah Legislature and K-12 leaders in the passage of HB 198, Strengthening College and Career Readiness. The legislation directed the Utah State Board of Education to develop a certificate in college and career counseling for school counselors, based on the efforts of USHE. The bill also provides funds for grants to local schools, on a competitive basis, for payment of course fees for required courses to earn the certificate. The bill was jointly supported by USHE, K-12 and the Governor’s Office.
This legislation is a major collaborative step between K-12 and higher education in improving the training of K-12 counselors in college and career readiness skills.
The legislation has three primary components for counselor certification:
- Online coursework: the University of Utah, and Utah State University have jointly developed an online college and career readiness training for school counselors, the first of its kind in Utah, to both pre-service (students) and in-service (currently employed) school counselors.
- Professional Development: Over the last three years, the USBE has updated professional development for school counseling programs called Basic Training Essentials to focus on program changes and updates around college and career readiness. This component is based primarily on USBE’s updates to its Career Literacy materials for counselors.
- Business and Industry: The third component, being rolled out this fall 2016, has been developed in partnership with industry and higher education using tools on StepUpUtah.com, as well as some of the longitudinal data analyses related to college and jobs in Utah including:
- Industries where USHE graduates are employed, based on area of study
- Wages of USHE graduates by field of study and degree type
- Job placement rates of USHE graduates by field of study and degree type
- 1st year college performance of Utah high school graduates.
This initiative is part of overall efforts to strengthen collaboration between K-12 and higher education and to improve student success from high school to college.