Elaine Callahan (2008) reviewed the role of GED counselors in student retention at Henrico County Public Schools Adult Education. Counselors for their program was the first point of contact for students. Part of the duties of the counselors was assessment & class placement, student motivation, retention and success. The counselors were also the ones who conducted the school orientation sessions after class placement, and contacted students around attendance issues – calling, sending motivational notes.
At more than one organization the above responsibilities are performed by different people; teachers are the ones who contact students around attendance issues and try to motivate them first. Then others who have administrative functions may do follow-up calls. Callahan (2008) writes that teachers can perform these functions around attendance “although perhaps not at the same intensity or with the same duration as a person whose position is devoted only to counseling students on an individual basis.” She references the fact that her teachers work part-time which limits their availability and that “the instructional priorities of the classroom are significant, and the instructor’s focus is different from that of the counselor.”
For Dainel Fusch (2010), there should be a pre-assessment conversation with prospective adult students that provide a benchmark as to “where a returning adult is, so that the adult learner and the advisor are informed and can work together to develop strategies for the student's success.”
Callahan (2008) further states that their “data indicates that our student retention has improved each year. We have gone from 225 students separating before completion in 2005/06 to 111 students separating before completion in 2006/07. Th is is a 49.3 percent increase in student retention.”
The idea that the counselor should be involved in so much including contacting students around attendance is intriguing. At one of the jobs that I referred to above there were two types of counselors. One who focused on social and emotional issues. The other served as an education and career counselor. The second one assisted with enrollment, did orientation specific to her position, met with students one-on-one, but did not contact students around attendance. She also worked part-time due to budgetary concerns; and that is the crux of the issue for many educational institutions: How to implement best practices that would have a positive impact on students and key metrics with a small budget? It would take planning that would need a review of spending priorities and possibly new funding initiatives.
Callahan, E. (2008). Role of GED counselors in student retention. https://nelrc.org/persist/pdfs/Role%20of%20GED%20Counselors%20in%20Student%20Retention.pdf
Fusch, D. (2010, May 13). Academic advising for adult learners. [Website blog post].
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