The Changing Roles of School Counselors in an Era of School Accountability

Open Access
Miller, Barbara Jean
Graduate Program:
Educational Leadership
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 19, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Nona Ann Prestine, Dissertation Advisor
  • Nona Ann Prestine, Committee Chair
  • William Hartman, Committee Member
  • Roger C Shouse, Committee Member
  • Jerry G Trusty, Committee Member
  • school counselors
  • NCLB
The primary purpose of this study was to explore how the No Child Left Behind Act has impacted the traditional responsibilities of high school counselors. Furthermore, if there have been changes in school counselor roles, how are school counselors managing the impact? The study findings also investigated school counselor professional development regarding school counseling reform initiatives and the alignment of school counselor practice with school counselor preparation. The research questions were explored through a case study design involving the participation of six high school administrators and six high school counselors from four school districts within the Central Intermediate Unit (CIU) 10 region of central Pennsylvania. Employing a qualitative research design of in-depth interviewing and participant observation primarily from January 2006 until May of 2009, the data was analyzed in a comparative approach across the cases of study. The sample size and case similarities are its chief limitations. The foremost finding for the study was how school counselor roles have shifted to excessive amounts of time spent with testing tasks, taking time from students, and creating role-pull for the counselors. Findings also included changes in counselor roles regarding student remediation, career advisement, teacher and student perceptions, and possible increases in counselor and administrator teaming. School counselors managed their roles by working extra hours, functioning with a sense of urgency, and altering their counseling styles to be more time efficient. Graduate program preparation, professional organization initiatives, and job tasks were found to be misaligned for the counselors, leading to “disconnectedness” between the academy, school counseling reform initiatives, and practice. Recommendations from the participating counselors for other school counselors included stay focused on students, plan your day, manage time efficiently, be prepared for differing events, work with administrators to assist No Child Left Behind needs, seek a forum of colleagues, review situational case studies related to school counselor roles, use technology efficiently, and research school districts where seeking employment. In keeping with the essence of school accountability, recommendations for further research suggest investigating the impact of school counselors on NCLB through improved student achievement, versus the impact of NCLB on school counselors.