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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 28, 2006

Do Lower Student to Counselor Ratios Reduce School Disciplinary Problems?

  • Scott E Carrell and Susan A Carrell


The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends that there be no more than 250 students to each school counselor. Although numerous studies in the education literature show that school counselors play a positive role in educating children, to our knowledge, this is the first study answering the question of whether lower student to counselor ratios, all else equal, improve student outcomes. Using data provided to us by Florida's Alachua County School District and the University of Florida Counselor Education Department, we show that lower student to counselor ratios decrease both the recurrence of student disciplinary problems and the share of students involved in a disciplinary incident. These effects are greater for minority and low-income students. The fixed-effect models used, control for all unobserved heterogeneity across schools, isolating the effects on discipline from the within-school changes in the student-to-counselor ratio. The empirical methodologies employed produce unbiased estimates as long as the variation in the student to counselor ratio is not driven by unobserved factors that affect disciplinary outcomes.

Published Online: 2006-4-28

©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

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