The Virginia School Counselor Association hosted Legislative Day for the 2017 session on Opening Day this year, January 11, 2017. The main focus of the organization was to educate and advocate for the Board of Education proposed updates to the Standards of Quality and Standards of Accreditation, especially relating to the changes in instructional, administrative, and support personnel. The staff ratio for School Counselors should be adjusted to the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommendation of 1 counselor for every 250 students in grades K-12. With current SOQ standards requiring approximately one school counselor for every 425 students, a Virginia school counselor currently has approximately 35 minutes per student per year to spend on individual student planning. Empirical research studies show that students who have greater access to school counselors via lower student-school counselor ratios have stronger school attendance, are more likely to graduate, are more likely to apply to and enroll in college (including first generation students), and show greater improvements in student learning, behavior and mental health. In the2017 session, SenatorMcPikeproposedabill thatwould require School Counselors to complete training in the recognition ofmental health disorder and behavioral distress, including depression, trauma, violence, youth suicide, and substance abuse when they seek initial licensure and renewal of a license in the state of Virginia. At Legislative Day VSCA members were able to talk to Senator McPike about this proposed bill and share the need for this training to be evidenced based and meaningful to School Counselors throughout the state. VSCA members met with many Senators and Delegates during Legislative Day and will continue to educate and advocate for the SOQ standards to be changed throughout the bill. The organization is already making plans for Legislative Day 2018 and hopes that a bill is proposed to adjust the School Counselor ratios to 1 counselor for every 250 students in grades K-12. Renée Zando is the Director of School Counseling at Hermitage High School in Henrico County and serves as the Government Relations Chair of the Virginia School Counselor Association. VSCA Legislative Day 2017 By Renée Zando


V irginia C apitol C onnections , S pring 2017


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