SB 179 is well intentioned. I call this one “Let the Counselors Counsel!” A good idea, no? But the detail in the bill puts this one high on the Dawg’s Sheesh-O-Meter.
The bill requires that the school board adopt a policy that requires counselors to spend no less than 80% of their work time on “duties that are components of a counseling program.” Time spent administering assessment instruments (i.e., STAAR) does not count toward the 80%, but time spent interpreting data from the assessment does count. If the board determines (note: the board, not the superintendent or principal) that staffing needs require a counselor to spend less than 80% on counseling, the policy must 1) include the reasons for this; 2) list the non-counseling duties that need to be done; and 3) set the percentage of work time the counselor will be required to counsel. Schools may not override this statute with language in the contract, and may not authorize administrators to require a counselor to “generally perform” duties not related to counseling, unless that duty is set in the board’s policy. Each district must annually assess the district’s compliance with the policy and be ready to provide a written copy of the assessment to the Commissioner upon request. The Commissioner will be adopting rules about this.
Everyone is in favor of counselors doing what counselors are trained to do, but this is a record setting exercise in micro-management. If the legislature is so worried about counselors administering the STAAR exam there is another alternative. They could reduce or eliminate the STAAR. That would free up counselors time without requiring counselors to develop spreadsheets recording every minute of their workday.
DAWG BONE: 80%. EXPECT GRIEVANCES OVER THIS ONE.
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Tomorrow: Who do you trust? Whom??