In this brief, authors Douglas Gagnon and Marybeth Mattingly examine access to school counselors in public school districts, as well as how this access is mediated by district demographic and location characteristics. They use a large nationally representative data source compiled from the 2013–2014 Civil Rights Data Collection, the 2014 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, and 2007 urban centric locales made available by the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct their analyses. The authors report that only 17.8 percent of school districts meet the American School Counselor Association’s recommended student-to-school counselor ratio of 250:1 or lower. The median ratio is 411:1. Although rural districts are the most likely to lack any school counselors, the median caseload in rural districts is lower, at 380:1, and 25.5 percent meet ASCA recommendations. Only 4.2 percent of city districts nationwide meet or exceed a ratio of 250:1, with the median city district reporting a student-to-counselor ratio of 499:1. Access to school counselors varies considerably across states. Median ratios are over 1000:1 in Arizona and California but under 250:1 in North Carolina, North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Montana.

Publication Date

Fall 10-24-2016


National Issue Brief No. 108


Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire

Document Type



Copyright 2016. Carsey School of Public Policy. These materials may be used for the purposes of research, teaching, and private study. For all other uses, contact the copyright holder.

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Counseling Commons