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Dr. Derron Hilts awarded grant to explore student-to-school counselor ratios on student outcomes


Mon, Apr 29th 2024 12:15 pm

By Niagara University

Dr. Derron Hilts, assistant professor and school counseling program coordinator at Niagara University, along with his colleague, Dr. Yanhong Liu, associate professor at Syracuse University, received a $5,000 grant from the New York State School Counselor Association to examine the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and student-to-school counselor ratios on student outcomes. Their research aims to illuminate the potential impact of school counselors having relatively manageable caseload sizes on student outcomes, as well as how the COVID-19 pandemic has further influenced this relationship.

Although the American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-school counselor ratio of 250:1, there is large disparity in caseloads across the U.S.; in New York state, during the 2022-23 school year (the most recently reported school year), the ratio was 331:1. Using data from the New York State Education Department across multiple school years, Hilts and his colleague will analyze students’ actual performance at different stages of the pandemic.

“By better understanding the potential relationships between student-to-school counselor ratios and student outcomes, including attendance and suspension rates – before, during, after the COVID-19 pandemic – the American School Counselor Association and the broader counseling profession may be able to more effectively advocate for school counselors in meeting K-12 students’ multifaceted needs and better understand how COVID-19 has shaped the academic landscape,” he said.

Hilts joined the faculty of Niagara University’s counseling program in August 2022. He earned a Ph.D. in counseling and counselor education at Syracuse University, an M.S.Ed. in counselor education from Duquesne University, and a B.S. in psychology from the State University of New York at Fredonia.

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