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Job satisfaction of elementary school counselors: a new look.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the current job satisfaction level of elementary school counselors in Virginia and compare the results with counselors surveyed in 1988 and 1995. A demographic data form and the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire were completed by 301 counselors to measure their job satisfaction level. Results indicated that counselors surveyed in 2001 were satisfied with their jobs, however, overall job satisfaction decreased during the past decade.

As the 21st century dawns, school counselors continue to occupy a crucial position in the lives of young people. Numerous challenges confront both school counselors and students as they endeavor to meet the demands of contemporary life (Cunningham & Sandhu, 2000; Gysbers, Lapan, & Blair, 1999; Herr, 2001). Elementary school counselors have long been one of the first lines of defense for students against the adverse effects of unhealthy, toxic environments. Much empirical research exists to support the positive affects that elementary school counselors have on students' academic and personal development (Borders & Drury, 1992; Lee, 1993; Miller, 1989; Paisley & Borders, 1995). Yet, as elementary school counselors strive to meet students' needs, their roles are often thwarted or seen as unessential (Hardesty & Dillard, 1994).

School counselors are increasingly spending much of their time in non-counseling, administrative tasks (Bemak, 2000; Coll & Freeman, 1997; Hardesty & Dillard, 1994; Morse & Russell, 1988). Napierkowski and Parsons (1995) observed that counselors' roles have become more "quasi-administrative," with counselors performing gatekeeper and custodial work. The role statement of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA, 1999) recommends that counselors focus at least 70% of their rime on direct services to students with a maximum counselor-to-student ratio of 1:250. School counselors have always been agents of change and enter the profession because of their desire to help students (Ribak-Rosenthal, 1994). If they are unable to fulfill their primary role, frustration and job dissatisfaction may result.

Elementary school counseling programs were originally based on research reflecting the adverse affects of unhealthy early childhood psychological development (Miller, 1989). However, elementary school counselors are not utilized in all states to promote the overall growth and development of students. In their study of the activities and functions of counselors across grade levels, Hardesty and Dillard (1994) found that elementary school counselors performed more consulting, counseling, and coordinating functions and fewer administrative-like functions compared to both middle and secondary school counselors. Because of this difference, Hardesty and Dillard indicated that elementary school counseling may be viewed as more expendable to school administrators and legislatures and more likely to be eliminated from school budgets during tight budget times. If state regulations do not ensure that their positions will be maintained or that their roles will be implemented according to prescribed national leadership statements, school counselors may be vulnerable to job stress and dissatisfaction.

Job satisfaction contributes to how effectively individuals perform their jobs (Bacharach, Bamberger, & Mitchell, 1990; Schuler, Aldage, & Brief; 1977; Spector, 1997). Many studies indicate that job satisfaction influences the emotional and physical well-being of an individual (Ducharme & Martin, 2000; Olson & Dilley, 1988; Pugliesi, 1999). Conversely, job dissatisfaction is associated with stress and burnout (Kesler, 1990; Leiter & Meechan, 1986; Lobban, Husted, & Farewell, 1998; Martin & Schinke, 1998; Wolpin, Burke, & Greenglass, 1991). Decreased job satisfaction also has been associated with a number of potentially damaging personal and professional symptoms (Coil & Freeman, 1997; Hansen, 1967; Schuler, 1977; Van Sell, Brier, & Schuler, 1981). Olson and Dilley (1988) stated that counselors' mental health and the quality of their work are related. Hansen (1967) observed that the interaction of workers with their jobs is reflected in their feelings and behaviors such as job participation and productivity. Brown, Hohenshil, and Brown (1988) noted that job satisfaction is necessary to ensure continuous and high quality services to children and the adults who work with them.

Although the study of job satisfaction has been widely researched (e.g., Locke, 1976; Martin & Schinke, 1998; Spector, 1985, 1997), few studies have focused specifically on the job satisfaction of school counselors. Perhaps because elementary school counseling is a newer discipline, there have been even fewer studies on the job satisfaction of elementary school counselors. During the past 15 years, however, two studies in Virginia examined how satisfied elementary school counselors were with their jobs. Kirk (1988) found that 93.4% of counselors were satisfied with their jobs. Seven years later Murray (1995) discovered that 96.3% of elementary school counselors in Virginia were satisfied with their jobs. Since these two studies were completed, an array of social, economic, and political changes have taken place throughout the nation and in Virginia that may have affected elementary school counselors' feelings about their jobs (Herr, 2001; Napierkowski & Parsons, 1995; Olson & Dilley, 1988). From her experience as an elementary school counselor and from conversations with her colleagues, the author identified three main areas which had changed in Virginia since the last study of job satisfaction of elementary school counselors was completed in 1995. She posited three factors: (1) change in mandate for elementary school counselors, (2) inclusion of high-stakes testing program, and (3) public perception and school response to school violence.

In 1986, a K-12 school counseling program was mandated in Virginia (Virginia Department of Education, 1986). However, in 1997 the mandate was dropped, allowing school districts discretionary spending of allocated money for either reading teachers or elementary school counselors (Virginia Department of Education, 1997). Fortunately, almost all school districts have chosen to retain their elementary school counselors. However, elementary counselors live with the knowledge that their jobs can be eliminated from year to year depending on budgetary decisions of the local school board.

Another factor affecting elementary school counselors in Virginia as well as all other elementary school staff is the mandated high-stakes testing program based on Virginia's Standards of Learning passed by Virginia in 1997 (Virginia Department of Education, 1997). Both student progress and school accountability are ultimately tied to students' passing rate on competency tests. The massive testing program was put into place without authorization of additional personnel; consequently, in many school districts, the onus of managing the testing program falls on school counselors.

One of the most challenging and complex issues that schools and school counselors have had to face during the past decade has been school violence. Although reported criminal incidents and types of discipline have remained constant or even decreased in some areas (Riley & McDaniel, 2000), youth violence is alarming. Dykeman, Daehlin, Doyle, and Flamer (1996) observed that not only are children committing violent crimes at younger ages, they are also involved with violence as victims and witnesses. Fritz (2000) reported that 123,000 children are arrested each year for violent or serious crimes. According to Sandhu (2000), nearly 3 million serious crimes are committed annually in the nation's schools. Katz (2000) reported that since 1992 there have been 28 instances of "school mass homicides" such as the ones at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado and Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas. As school administrators struggle with ways to prevent acts of violence from occurring within their schools, they increasingly turn to school counselors for leadership and help with establishing policies regarding violence prevention and school safety (Fryxell & Smith, 2000). Thus, counselors striving for innovative ways to help curb school violence may become frustrated as additional demands are placed upon them. Olson and Dilley (1988) observed that as add-on roles for counselors have increased, no other roles have been decreased. School counselors frequently are expected to serve as prevention specialist, consultant, and community organizer without adequate training (Cunningham & Sandhu, 2000). When counselors are expected to perform roles and functions without feeling they have the necessary skills, serve too many students, or be involved with activities that detract from their primary duties, job dissatisfaction may result.

These three factors posited by the researcher, lack of mandated elementary school counselors in schools, required Standards of Learning testing in elementary schools, and concerns about school violence, helped shape the research questions for this study. Although the current study was conducted after the two legislative changes described above (elimination of the statewide elementary school counseling mandate in 1996 and the passage of the Virginia Standards of Learning testing program in 1997), the two previous job satisfaction studies were conducted before these changes. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the current level of job satisfaction among elementary school counselors in Virginia and to compare it with counselors surveyed in 1988 and 1995 (Kirk, 1988; Murray, 1995).

The following research questions were addressed in the study:

1. What is the overall job satisfaction level expressed by elementary school counselors in Virginia?

2. Which of the 20 scales of the modified Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (Weiss, Dawis, England, & Lofquist, 1967) explain the variance in job satisfaction?

3. What is the relationship of the overall job satisfaction level of Virginia elementary school counselors with selected demographic and work environment characteristics?

4. How does the job satisfaction level of Virginia elementary school counselors in 2001 compare to the job satisfaction level of Virginia elementary school counselors in 1995 and 1988?

5. Does the current social and political climate affect counselors' feelings about their jobs and performance?

METHOD

Participants

Participants in this study were drawn from the membership roster of the Virginia School Counselor Association (VSCA) who indicated on their VSCA membership form they were elementary school counselors. The VSCA comprises approximately 1,200 school counselors throughout the state and is the largest division of the Virginia Counselors Association (VCA), which is the official state branch of the American Counseling Association (ACA). There were 444 members and all were selected for the study. A total of 339 counselors responded to the survey, which represented a response rate of 76.35%. There were 38 non-usable returns and of this number 6 were incomplete and 32 were erroneously listed on the mailing list as elementary school counselors. Of the 301 usable surveys, 297 counselors responded to the gender identification item. The number of females was 281 (94.61%), and the number of males was 16 (5.39%). Four respondents did not indicate gender. Participants identified their ethnicity as follows: 268 (89.93%) were Caucasian, 26 (8.73%) were African American, 2 (0.67%) were Hispanic American, and 2 (0.67%) indicated bi-racial. Three respondents failed to mark this category. Approximately 73% (72.45%, n = 213) of the respondents were between ages 44 and 61 with the median age being 50. Seven respondents failed to complete this item on the survey. The mean number of years elementary school counselors had been employed was 9.81 years. Almost 90% (89.04%, n = 260) of counselors who completed this item indicated they worked full time as elementary school counselors. The remaining percentage (10.96%, n = 32) held additional duties as art teacher, librarian, and assistant principal. Nine participants failed to mark this item. Of the 280 counselors who responded to the question about the number of students assigned to work with, 141 (50.36%) indicated they served between 301 to 500 students. Eighty-six (30.71%) indicated they served between 501 and 700 students in their schools. Over 92 % (92.31%, n = 276) of counselors in the survey held master's degrees with one participant holding a bachelor's degree and 7 holding doctorate degrees. Two respondents did not indicate their degree status.

Instruments

Data form. Participants were asked to complete a demographics data form that was used to gather selected information about the respondents and to assist in identifying the relationship between demographic variables and overall job satisfaction scores. Information was collected on the following areas: age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, parental status, degree status, special licenses, type of school license held, classroom experience, types of non-counseling experience, percent of time employed as an elementary school counselor, training, job title, years employed, contract length, number of schools served, number of counselors in school served and in division, community demographics, percent of students receiving free or reduced lunch, plans to remain in current position and in profession, receiving or providing clinical supervision, and desire to change to an administrative position. Four new questions were created in the current study. They were: Does the lack of a state mandate for the elementary school counseling program affect the satisfaction you feel with your job? Has passage of the Standards of Learning assessments affected the way you feel about your job? Has your role as a school counselor changed as a result of the increased awareness of school violence? and, Do you feel there are significant impediments to the preferred role and function of your job?

Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire. The Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ; Weiss et al., 1967) was completed by each participant. An often used and widely researched job satisfaction measure (Scarpello & Campbell, 1983; Spector, 1997), the MSQ is a self-report instrument that consists of 100 items that sample job satisfaction on 20 scale areas. It was derived from the Minnesota Studies in Vocational Rehabilitation in 1967 and was revised in 1977. The MSQ provides an overall index of job satisfaction and assesses the following job satisfaction facets through the following 20-scale areas: Ability Utilization, Achievement, Activity, Advancement, Authority, Company Policies and Practices, Compensation, Co-Workers, Creativity, Independence, Moral Values, Recognition, Responsibility, Security, Social Service, Social Status, Supervision-Human Relations, Supervision-Technical, Variety, and Working Conditions. Each of the 20 scales has a total of five items, and respondents are asked to rate their satisfaction according to four categories that include Very Dissatisfied (VDS), Dissatisfied (DS), Satisfied (S), and Very Satisfied (VS). Each of the response categories were assigned ordinal weights (e.g., VDS was weighted as one and VS was weighted as four). The sum of the weights for the five items in each scale yielded scores that ranged from 5 to 20. Response options were considered to be the midpoint of an interval (e.g., a response of Very Dissatisfied with the weighted values of one represents the midpoint of an interval from 0.5 to 1.5). Satisfaction categories for each of the scales were derived by multiplying the response option interval values by the number of scale items (five). Therefore, the category of Very Dissatisfied would be represented by the interval values of 2.5 to 7.5, and the category of Very Satisfied would be represented by the interval values of 17.51 to 22.50. Response weights for each of the 100 items were summed to determine overall job satisfaction scores for respondents. Overall satisfaction categories were obtained by multiplying each response option interval by 100 which produced the following categories: Very Dissatisfied from 50 to 150; Dissatisfied from 151 to 250; Satisfied from 251 to 350; and Very Satisfied from 351 to 400. A modified form of the MSQ was developed by Anderson in 1982 to make the terminology in certain questions consistent with school settings. Also, to simplify interpretation, Anderson eliminated the neutral response from the original form. Kirk (1988) made one additional change to the modified MSQ by changing the wording of school psychologists to school counselors on the Compensation scale. As in Kirk and Murray's (1995) surveys, the modified format was used in the current study.

Hoyt Reliability coefficients for the MSQ have ranged from 0.97 on the Ability Utilization scale for stenographers and typists to a low of 0.59 on the Variety scale for buyers. Stability coefficients for test-retest correlations for a one-week interval ranged from 0.66 for the Co-Workers scale to 0.91 for the Working Conditions scale. Test-retest reliability for a one-year period ranged from 0.35 for the Independence scale to 0.71 for the Ability Utilization scale. Previous studies have shown that Cronbach's alpha coefficients have ranged from 0.73 to 0.94 for the 20 scales and 0.97 for the over all satisfaction scale (Anderson, Hohenshil, & Brown, 1984; Brown et al., 1988; Levinson, Fetchkan, & Hohenshil, 1988).

Procedure

A five-step procedure was used in the survey process. This included the mailing of a pre-letter which briefly described the study, an initial survey packet that included a cover letter and the two survey instruments, a postcard reminder one week after the initial mailing, a follow-up reminder 2 weeks later that included another survey packet to those who had not responded, and a second follow-up reminder 4 weeks after the initial survey mailing. Materials were coded for purposes of follow-up but all responses were kept confidential.

RESULTS

Levels of Overall Job Satisfaction

Overall job satisfaction scores as measured by the modified MSQ for elementary school counselors in 2001 were computed for 297 respondents (4 of the 301 usable surveys provided incomplete information and were unable to be included in the overall scores). The percentage of participants' scores that fell within the Satisfied range was 78.45% (n = 233) while 12.46% (n = 37) of the scores fell within the Very Satisfied range. Scores that fell within the Dissatisfied range represented 8.42% (n = 25) of the total, and 0.67% (n = 2) represented the percentage of participants scores that fell within the Very Dissatisfied range.

Sources of Job Satisfaction

A hierarchy of the 20 modified MSQ scales was constructed to determine the current sources of job satisfaction among Virginia elementary school counselors. Means and standard deviations for each scale were obtained. Table 1 summarizes this information (mean scale scores of 12.51 or greater indicate general feelings of satisfaction in that area). The Compensation scale was the only one to fall below this range with a mean of 11.83. Although the hierarchy of the MSQ scales in the 1988, 1995, and 2001 studies varied somewhat, they were very similar. In Murray's 1995 study the area of compensation also represented the only area of dissatisfaction with a mean scale score of 12.43, while in Kirk's 1988 study there were no significant sources of dissatisfaction on any of the MSQ scales. The six areas representing the most satisfaction in all three studies were Social Service, Moral Values, Creativity, Activity, Variety, and Ability Utilization. Compensation, Company Policies, and Advancement were the areas in which counselors were least satisfied in all three studies. In both the current study and the 1995 study, Security represented the fourth area producing the least satisfaction, while in the 1988 study it was eighth.

Relation Between Job Satisfaction and Demographic Variables

In the 2001 study two demographic variables were found to be significant, although quite small sources of variance in overall job satisfaction. Educational degree status and counselors' intent to stay in their current position combined to explain 5.2% of the variance (p < .05). The 1995 study found that the number of elementary school counselors in the division, intentions of remaining in the position for 5 years, and having a Collegiate/Postgraduate Professional license were significant sources of variation in job satisfaction. In the 1988 study, none of the demographic variables were found to affect job satisfaction.

Overall Comparisons of Job Satisfaction Levels in 2001, 1995, and 1988

When compared with elementary school counselors surveyed in 1995 and 1988, the overall job satisfaction level of counselors in 2001 shows similarities (see Table 2). The majority of respondents in all three years indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs. In 2001 this represented 90.9% of the total, while in 1995 the percentage of counselors who were satisfied with their jobs was 96.3% and in 1988 it was 93.4%.

How the Current Social and Political Climate Affects Counselors Job Satisfaction

Of the 286 (95.02%) who responded to the question "Does the lack of a state mandate for the elementary school counseling program affect the satisfaction you feel with your job?", 58% (n = 167) indicated the lack of a state mandate requiring elementary school counselors to be employed in all schools did affect their job satisfaction level. Almost 42% (n = 119) indicated that the lack of a state mandate did not affect how they feel about their jobs. A total of 290 responded to the question of "Has the passage of the Standards of Learning assessments affected your job satisfaction level?" Approximately two thirds (n = 190) indicated their job satisfaction level was affected negatively by the Standards of Learning assessments, while a little over one third (n = 100) reported that their feelings about their jobs were not associated with the assessments. Of the 288 responding to the question "Has your role as a school counselor changed as a result of the increased awareness of school violence?", 60.07% (n = 173) indicated their roles had changed because of the awareness of school violence, and 39.93% (n = 115) said their roles had not changed. Two hundred eighty-six (95.02%) responded to the question "Do you feel there are significant impediments to the preferred role and functions of your job?" Of those, 163 (56.99%) indicated there were impediments to the way they preferred to do their jobs, and 123 (43.01%) indicated they felt no impediments to how they performed their jobs. These results are summarized in Table 3.

DISCUSSION

This study found that elementary school counselors employed in Virginia's public schools are very satisfied with their jobs. Compared with elementary school counselors surveyed in 1988 and 1995, the job satisfaction level of counselors in 2001 remained similar. The overall job satisfaction level of counselors surveyed in 2001 was 90.9%, while in 1995 it was 96.3% and in 1988 it was 93.4%. These findings are consistent with other job satisfaction surveys conducted periodically in the United States that indicate most Americans are generally satisfied with their work (Hugick & Leonard, 1991).

Elementary school counselors continue to derive the most satisfaction with aspects of their job that directly relate to the work itself, namely Social Service. In both 2001 and 1995, counselors were satisfied with all but one area as measured by the modified Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire. The area producing dissatisfaction in these two studies was the amount of compensation received for the amount of work performed. Counselors surveyed in 1988 indicated they were satisfied with all areas of their work.

The present study reflects some demographic changes and trends. The majority of elementary school counselors in Virginia are older, Caucasian females. Virginia elementary school counselors' median age increased from 41 in 1988 to 45 in 1995 and to 50 in 2001. There has been an increase in the number of female counselors across all three studies. While the majority of Virginia's elementary school counselors has always been Caucasian, this percentage increased by 2.03% from the 1995 study and 7.51% from the 1988 study. Additional findings show that there has been a decrease in the percentage of counselors who are devoting 100% of their time to that of only serving as school counselor.

The number of elementary school counselors who are either Dissatisfied or Very Dissatisfied with their jobs has increased. In 1995 the percent of counselors who were Very Dissatisfied or Dissatisfied with their jobs was 3.7%, and in 1988 it was 6.6%. The percent of counselors who expressed feeling Very Dissatisfied or Dissatisfied with their jobs in 2001 was 9.1%.

An analysis of the four new questions that were included on the demographic data form in the 2001 study identified several factors contributing negatively to counselors' job satisfaction. Asked if the lack of a state mandate affected how counselors feel about their jobs, the majority of respondents said their job security felt threatened. Counselors commented, "I don't feel valued or important," "It's demoralizing to feel the that the need for counselors is not recognized," and "I always feel like my job is in jeopardy." Fournet, Distefano, and Pryer (1969) stated that "security is counted by many investigators as the most important variable in job satisfaction" (p. 173). It appears the lack of job security is a considerable source of stress for many Virginia elementary school counselors. Of the 167 counselors who reported that their job satisfaction was negatively affected by the lack of a state mandate, 140 counselors gave explanations. Table 4 summarizes this information.

When asked if the passage of the Standards of Learning assessments affected the way counselors feel about their jobs, almost two-to-one responded affirmatively. Counselors indicated that they felt more stress and pressure in their jobs. Comments included: "There's more pressure to teach study skills and less time for counseling"; "We have lots of tension at our school"; and "I spend ungodly hours as test coordinator, and I neglect most students at that time." Other counselors expressed frustration over the difficulty they had in getting to work with students who needed to see them because of the pressure teachers felt to spend every classroom moment on teaching academic lessons. Some 172 of the 190 counselors who responded affirmatively provided comments on how the Standards of Learning assessments affected their job satisfaction level. These are presented in Table 5.

Counselors also indicated their roles had changed as the result of increased awareness of school violence. Table 6 summarizes the responses 138 counselors made. Many believed they were now providing more help to students in resolving conflicts and dealing with anger. Some counselors said they were getting more discipline referrals and were conducting more classroom guidance lessons on bullying. One counselor stated, "I have more referrals on potential violent acts than before, which detracts from my developmental work." Several counselors indicated that some student problems that they were expected to handle were too "therapeutic" and that they needed additional training to meet the changing needs of their students.

The majority of counselors in the present study expressed having significant impediments to the way they would prefer to do their jobs (see Table 7). Out of the 163 counselors who answered yes to this question, 154 explained the type of impediments they experienced. Over half of these counselors thought that they were providing services to areas in which they would rather commit less time. These comments were typical: "I'm assigned so many administrative duties I don't seem to be able to go to classes and talk about pro-social topics"; "The roles of a counselor have expanded so widely that working one-to-one with children seems to be the last priority rather than the first"; and "I'm assigned mandatory classroom guidance without my input." Another theme that emerged was counselors' concern over higher student ratios. Many counselors expressed frustration over having to work with such a large population that they were unable to adequately meet their students' needs.

CONCLUSION AND LIMITATIONS

An array of social, cultural, and political changes during the past two decades has presented new challenges for the profession of school counseling. At a time when a growing body of empirical evidence supports the benefits of having a K-12 counseling program, Virginia elementary school counselors have seen their programs relegated to a local option status. Results of this study indicate that mandated statewide accountability testing, cutbacks in personnel, school violence, and societal changes have affected how elementary school counselors spend their time and deliver services to students and, ultimately, their job satisfaction level.

One major conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that non-guidance duties need to be re-evaluated by school administrators and reassigned to appropriate employees. Because elementary school counseling positions are less secure, counselors are given more administrative-type roles and feel more pressure to take on additional job assignments. Therefore, counselors are more vulnerable to stress and job dissatisfaction when they are unable to meet the demands placed upon them.

Data from this study could assist administrative personnel in making decisions to commit more time and resources for counselors to better meet the needs of the school community. School counselors also need to collaborate with other staff members within their schools to clarify their role and functions. By becoming more proactive in defining their roles, counselors can reduce their stress levels and enhance their job satisfaction.

There are some limitations to the study that should be noted. First, participants were drawn from members of the Virginia School Counselor Association. Studies have shown that being a member of a professional organization has a significant positive affect on job satisfaction (Levinson et al., 1988). Second, the sample size represents about one fourth of the total population of elementary school counselors in Virginia. Third, results may not be generalized to middle or high school counselors, elementary school counselors who work in private settings, or elementary school counselors who are not members of the Virginia School Counselor Association.

In spite of these limitations, findings of this study show that although the majority of elementary school counselors surveyed are satisfied with their jobs, the overall level of job satisfaction has decreased during the past decade. Results also indicate that many elementary school counselors in Virginia are experiencing significant barriers in performing their duties.
Table 1. Hierarchy of MSQ Scales

Scale Mean Standard deviation

Social Service 18.12 2.34
Moral Values 17.54 2.24
Creativity 17.42 3.65
Activity 17.27 2.92
Variety 17.09 2.14
Ability Utilization 17.08 2.89
Achievement 16.86 2.39
Responsibility 16.68 2.15
Co-worker 15.99 2.86
Independence 15.97 2.43
Working Conditions 15.52 4.17
Author 15.41 1.93
Recognition 14.90 3.92
Supervision-Human Relations 14.88 3.31
Social Status 14.88 2.38
Supervision-Technical 14.70 3.08
Security 14.69 3.93
Advancement 13.11 3.71
Company Policies 12.68 3.18
Compensation 11.83 3.53

Table 2. Levels of Overall job Satisfaction

 2001 1995 1988
Score Category Number % Total Number % Total

Very Dissatisfied 2 0.67 1 0.20
Dissatisfied 25 8.42 17 3.50
Satisfied 233 78.45 411 84.20
Very Satisfied 37 12.46 59 12.10
Total 297 100.00 488 0.00

Score Category Number % Total

Very Dissatisfied 1 0.37
Dissatisfied 17 6.23
Satisfied 224 82.05
Very Satisfied 31 11.35
Total 273 100.00

Table 3. Affects of Social and Political Climate on Counselors' Job
Satisfaction

Question Yes No Total

Does the lack of a state mandate for the 167 119 286
elementary school counseling program affect the
satisfaction you feel with your job?

Has the passage of the Standards of Learning 190 100 290
assessments affected your job satisfaction level?

Has your role as a school counselor changed as 173 115 288
a result of the increased awareness of school
violence?

Do you feel there are significant impediments to 163 123 286
the preferred role and functions of your job?

Table 4. Responses to "Does the lack of a state mandate for the
elementary school counseling program affect the satisfaction you
feel with your job?"

Category Responses

Job security feels threatened 62
Feel less valued and important 57
Allow too many others to set counseling agenda 8
Serve too many students 8
Not enough time for counseling 3
Do too much classroom guidance 2
Total Responses 140

Table 5. Responses to "Has passage of the Standards of Learning
assessment affected the way you feel about your job?"

Category Responses

Feel more pressure and stress 51
More difficult now to get students out of class 46
Unhappy with school's lack of emphasis on 29
 student's personal and social development
Testing duties take away from counseling time 27
Schedule and activities revolve around test 13
 preparation and test taking
Have more administrative and paperwork demands 6
Total Responses 172

Table 6. Responses to "Has your role as a school counselor changed as
a result of the increased awareness of school violence?"

Category Responses

Teach more conflict resolution and anger management 56
Provide more bullying and violence prevention lessons 47
Do more in-service training for school personnel 12
Emphasize character education more 12
Have more discipline referrals 8
Worry more when strangers enter school 3
Total Responses 138

Table 7. Responses to "Do you feel there are significant impediments
to the preferred role and functions of your job?"

Category Responses

Taking on more roles that detract from counseling 88
Teachers less willing to release students from class 34
Counselor-student ratio too high 9
Feel unsupported by administration 9
Having to do more classroom guidance and not enough 8
 direct counseling
Insufficient funds for resources 4
Student issues more therapeutic 2
Total Responses 154


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Doris S. DeMato, Ph.D., is a school counselor in Pittsylvania County Public Schools, Hurt, VA. E-mail: dnjdemao@lynchburg.net.

Claire Cole Curcio, Ed.D., is Professor Emerita. Both are with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA.
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