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Arizona remains worst state in nation for student-to-counselor ratio

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PHOENIX — Arizona remains the worst state in the nation for its student-to-counselor ratio, according to a new report released by the American School Counselor Association.

“Unfortunately, Arizona in the past couple of years has had the worst student-to-counselor ratio,” Amanda Nolasco, assistant chair of the association, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

“We have been working a lot in our association in the last two years to bring awareness to the fact that our students are not being serviced by school counselors.”

The report analyzed U.S. Department of Education data from the 2016-2017 school year, the most recent available.

In Arizona, there were 905 students to each counselor, compared to a 903-to-1 ratio for the 2015-2016 school year.

According to the report, the Grand Canyon State had a total of about 1.12 million students and only 1,241 school counselors.

Michigan came in as the second-worst state with a ratio of 741 students per counselor, followed by Illinois with a ratio of 686-to-1.

The national average improved to 455 students per counselor, down from 464 the previous year.

The association recommends a ratio of 250 students per counselor, a guideline that only Vermont, New Hampshire and the U.S. Virgin Islands met.

Nolasco said her group helped introduce two bills, SB 1344 and HB 2652, this year that would have worked toward reducing the ratio in Arizona, but neither of them were granted a hearing in committee.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey told KTAR News’ Mac & Gaydos on Tuesday that he is working to increase the number of school counselors in Arizona in an effort to improve students’ mental health.

On Wednesday, he signed the Mitch Warnock Act, which will require all of the state’s school faculty to complete suicide prevention training.

Ducey’s proposed budget includes $12 million to hire an additional 224 counselors for the state’s schools, which Nolasco said she would like to see approved.

“We need more counselors, and we also need teachers and educators to be aware of the warning signs inside the school,” Ducey said.

“We want to try to address this from every angle possible.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report. 

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