In 2019, the Kentucky Senate passed Senate Bill 1. Among other changes, that bill changed the role of school counselors across the state.
At the Christian County Board of Education meeting Thursday night, Tracey Leath, district assessment coordinator, explained to the board how changes from SB1 and the Kentucky Department of Education have been implemented locally.
“I can’t say enough about them all,” Leath said, referencing the counselors in the district.
Leath said that the title of counselors has been changed, per state law, from “guidance counselor” to “school counselors.”
The Kentucky Department of Education also redefined the role of a school counselor. Leath said a Kentucky school counselor is a certified mental health professional supporting all K-12 students in their social, emotional and academic career development.
“Part of that is a comprehensive school counseling program,” Leath said of the redefined role. “They provide a data-informed, universal learning experience to develop the whole child in a diverse society.”
The redefined role is defined by three core values: College and career readiness, opportunity and access and social, emotional and behavioral health.
College and career readiness ensures students attain the necessary knowledge, skills and dispositions to successfully transition to the next level of their education and career.
Opportunity and access provides equitable availability to research-based student experiences and school factors that impact student success.
Social, emotional and behavioral health cultivates the emotional, social and behavioral growth of students in becoming contributing and productive citizens.
“In a nutshell,” Leath said. “They do anything that they can in order to remove barriers for students and ensure that they make it to the next level successfully.”
She added that school counselors wear many hats. One of those is helping students stay on the path to graduation.
“There are many new graduation requirements,” she said.
SB1 defined the role of a school counselor even more clearly.
“(The legislature) are wanting counselors to provide more direct and indirect student services,” Leath said.
According to SB1, 60% of a school counselors’ time should be spent in direct services to the student. Leath said that time comes from individual, small group or whole group counseling.
The bill also stated that 40% of a school counselors’ time should be spent in indirect services — or services in support of students.
“Indirect services can mean things like researching why a student has been absent and seeing if that is hurting his or her academic progress,” Leath said.
She said one of the next steps for local school counselors is to have them begin tracking their time spent in each area to ensure that they are meeting the SB1 requirements.
She added that the district received a Project Prevent grant that will assist in providing additional training for local school counselors on trauma-informed care.
Although schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Leath said school counselors in the district are keeping in touch with their students.
“I just wanted to brag on them,” Leath told the board. “Particularly during our (non-traditional instruction) time. They are taking extra measures to make sure that our students are taken care of.”