PHOENIX — It is National School Counselor week and advocates say there is a big need for more school counselors in Arizona.
According to 2019 data from the American School Counselor Association, Arizona has the worst counselor-to-student ratio in the country with 905 students for every school counselor. The recommended ratio is 250:1. The national average is 430:1.
That ratio has gone down slightly after Arizona Superintendent Kathy Hoffman tapped over $21 million in pandemic relief aid to pay for more positions, but advocates say more still needs to be done.
Dr. Sara Haas teaches courses in school counseling at Northern Arizona University. She says a lack of counselors was an issue before the pandemic, but the demand is now greater than ever.
"Not feeling a part of things, not feeling connected to peers and I think that that's making it really difficult for students needing that extra place and that extra space to talk about things, to not feel alone," said Haas.
The good news is Haas says the number of students interested in the counseling field has increased in recent years, and they are actively enrolling more students to meet that need.
Next Wednesday, ABC15 is airing a series of stories about learning loss due to the pandemic and what more needs to be done to bridge the education gap.