(INDIANAPOLIS) — School leaders value the work of their counselors in contributing to positive school environments, but research from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce also suggests that counselors can do more to address the college and career readiness needs of students.

Those are among the findings in Superintendents & Principals: Partners in Success, the latest school counseling research commissioned by the Indiana Chamber Foundation. The research was conducted by Dr. Brandie Oliver, associate professor in Butler University College of Education, and Matt Fleck, president of Fleck Education.

The new report follows 2014’s Indiana School Counseling Research Review and last year’s Recognizing Promising Models of School Counseling for Indiana.

“Continuing to elevate the importance of successful school counseling models and the role of school counselors is critical to preparing Indiana students for college and/or career training,” says Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “These findings help confirm that businesses and the broader community must assist educators and contribute to going beyond the traditional school walls to help prepare students for life after high school.”

One survey respondent indicated, “School counseling is not what it was 25 years ago. We need to adapt to the needs of the current generation.” Another urged people to, “Talk about successes and what the counselors are accomplishing.”

Separate surveys of superintendents and principals, along with focus groups, produced these key findings:

  • Among 10 questions, superintendents and principals gave the highest rating to “school counselors positively impacting the overall school climate.” In response to a question about whether counselor programs meet college and career readiness needs, overall scores were significantly lower. In addition, the 2014 study by the Indiana Chamber found that most counselors (81%) would like to spend more time helping students in these areas.
  • When asked to rank six considerations in making school counselor hiring decisions, supporting the social and emotional needs of students placed highest. Helping meet the academic and college/career needs of students followed.
  • Both superintendents and principals ranked parent outreach and collaboration as the most important professional development topics for school counselors.

The Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 economic development action plan for the state includes the following Outstanding Talent goal: Increasing to 90% the proportion of Indiana students who graduate from high school ready for college and/or career training.

“That is only going to happen with a true team effort involving partnerships between schools, business and community youth-serving organizations,” notes Shelley Huffman, director of college and career readiness for the Indiana Chamber Foundation. “The Indiana Chamber values the work of school counselors. We seek to support their work and build on the growing number of business-education partnerships that are taking place throughout the state. Companies can and should play a role in helping develop their future workforce. The delivery of school counseling services statewide must respond to the needs of our students.”

One of the action steps from previous research was developing a portal for K-12 school counselors (and other stakeholders) to have access to resources and best practices. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has established that portal as part of the Learn More Indiana (www.learnmoreindiana.org) web site.

Grants from Lilly Endowment Inc. helped fund Superintendents & Principals: Partners in Success and the 2015 report (Recognizing Promising Models of School Counseling for Indiana). The Indiana Chamber’s school counseling research is available online at www.indianachamber.com/education.


The Indiana Chamber partners with 25,000 members and investors – representing over four million Hoosiers – to achieve the mission of “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity.”