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Counselors need help to steer kids to careers

New research from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation shows little improvement has taken place in the past 20 years in the way students receive college and career readiness information. But the problem is a school counseling one, not an issue with the counselors themselves.

In fact, the research shows that Indiana counselors don’t believe they have the proper preparation in their own education programs and, more importantly, they simply aren’t provided the time to carry out college and career readiness activities.

More than 420 counselors responded to a survey as part of the Indiana Chamber review. Fifty-eight percent said they are only able to spend 25 percent or less of their time on post-secondary counseling activities.

Yet they want to spend more time providing college and career guidance, but often end up with assignments that include hall monitor, lunch duty and even managing the school mascot.

An advisory group of educators and partners formed by the Indiana Chamber provided feedback on the current counseling landscape and how the Indiana Chamber could engage on this issue.

Among the goals and initiatives that emerged: raise awareness about postsecondary opportunities; recognize successful guidance programs; and clearly communicate employer needs, including workplace tours for students and educators.

The Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 long-range economic development plan for the state has a goal to increase to 90 percent the proportion of Indiana students who graduate from high school ready for college and/or career training. Improving school counseling is a critical component.

To help meet this important challenge, there is a clear need to engage teachers, school administrators and parents to work together.

The school counseling executive summary and full report are available at www.indianachamber.com/education.

Derek Redelman of Indianapolis is Indiana Chamber of Commerce vice president of education and workforce development policy. He wrote this for Indiana newspapers.

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