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Missouri School Counselors

January 29, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Brittany Whitley

School counselors support the academic, career and social/emotional development of students in elementary and secondary schools. In addition to responding to immediate student needs (e.g., conflict, crisis), school counselors can facilitate learning and individual student planning for the transition through school and into college or the workforce. High counselor-to-student ratios, time-intensive administrative tasks, and limited resources (e.g., class time, funding) create barriers to regular, high-quality counselor-student interactions. Sufficient access to school counselors is associated with improved student outcomes, especially for low-income, minoritized and/or first-generation college students.


  • Missouri’s Comprehensive School Counseling Program (MCSCP) outlines the expectations for the direct and indirect services that Missouri school counselors should provide in order to support students’ academic, career and social/emotional needs.
  • Missouri currently has an average counselor to student ratio of 1:339, which is significantly higher than the recommended 1:250 standard.
  • Urban schools with high percentages of nonwhite students are most likely to have reduced access to school counselors.


  • Due to wide variations in school contexts and characteristics, it is difficult to directly link improvements in student performance with specific counseling interventions.
  • Because time-on-task information is collected only at the individual school/district level, it is difficult to estimate the average amount of time that Missouri school counselors currently spend with students compared to time spent on non-counseling tasks.
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