SB 813 and Tenth Grade Counseling

A Report on Implementation
Carole L. Swain
Saint Mary’s College


Comprehensive school guidance programs attempt to address a range of student needs on personal, social, career, and academic dimensions. Many guidance and counseling programs, however, have suffered cutbacks in recent years even though students continue to be in need of guidance, and students themselves have expressed a desire for assistance.

SB 813 provided $20 per tenth grade student for academic counseling. This portion of the legislation was included as a checkpoint for assessing students' progress toward graduation and broadening their educational and career options. This counseling program is intended to strengthen existing comprehensive guidance programs. It gives priority to students not progressing satisfactorily toward graduation and students with college potential who are not college bound. Almost all high schools applied for and received these funds.

The major impact of the SB 813 counseling program is that targeted students receive more individual attention, and existing counseling services are strengthened. The novel activity resulting from this program is the large number of parent-counselor contacts. There is no way of knowing yet the impact of these services on students' progress in school. Follow-up support was generally absent because the $20 was inadequate to fund these activities. In addition, the counselor–student ratio did not change. Expenditures under this program largely purchased services for students rather than personnel, computers, or the like for school districts.

The tenth grade is a valid checkpoint, but many potential dropouts can be spotted as early as the sixth grade. The changes needed for all at-risk students require earlier targeting and conscientious follow-up. SB 813 allows school districts to target students sooner than the tenth grade, though there is no evidence of this happening yet.

There is no question that this program enables counselors to contact all students, and parents are being drawn into the counseling process. This is a positive step, but these measures must be reinforced in order to maximize their impact and potential. Without follow-up, students' vision of possibilities fades. The school districts did an admirable job of seeing students and parents. It is possible that this contact redirected these students at risk. Follow-up studies with students may support a promising outlook on this program's effectiveness.

Suggested citationSwain, C. L. (1985, May). SB 813 and tenth grade counseling: A report on implementation [Report]. Policy Analysis for California Education.