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It’s Not Just Teachers: How Counselor Diversity Matters for Students of Color

In a recent study, a high school counselor offered this honest description of the uncertainty of her job: “Maybe later, I’ll start to see kids come back and they’ll be like, oh this helped or that helped,” she said. Still, “Sometimes I leave and I’m like, I’ve done nothing.”

Now, new research captures exactly how much of a difference a counselor like her can make — and it’s substantial, particularly for low-income students.

That study appears to be the first to quantify how individual counselors affect students. Better counselors boost students’ chances of graduating high school and enrolling in and remaining in college, it finds. And students of color do much better when assigned to a counselor of color, seeing their chance of graduating high school jump nearly 4 percentage points.