Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Counseling and Educational Leadership

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

W. Matthew Shurts

Committee Member

Harriet Glosoff

Committee Member

Sandra Lopez-Baez

Committee Member

Michael Hannon


High school counselors are coming under increased pressure to demonstrate both their effectiveness in supporting individual students’ success in school and their ability to provide effective comprehensive school counseling programs. The evidence based research on effective school counseling practices is limited, and additional research is needed to assist practitioners in their work. An important area of concern is the work school counselors do to assist students in achieving graduation. Limited research has been focused on whether school counselors actually impact their students’ graduation rates. In this current research, the graduation rates of students assigned to school counselors were examined to determine whether individual counselors impact their assigned 9th grade students’ graduation rates using data from four high schools within one urban school district.

Three research questions were asked to understand the consistency and extent of any differences in school counselor or school graduation rates. To examine whether graduation rates varied over four demographically similar high schools within an urban school district, I completed a two-way factorial ANOVA with two between subjects’ independent variables (school and time). Results suggested differences between some of the schools but no differences over time and no interaction between school and time. Multiple z-proportion tests were conducted to compare each school counselor’s 9th grade assigned student graduation rates, comparing each counselor to every other counselor within the school for that year. Sixty eight (68) of the 138 comparisons were significant, suggesting that during each year, almost half of all school counselors showed significantly different student graduation rates when compared to other school counselors within their same high school. I calculated each school counselor’s mean graduate rate to determine the degree of variability in school counselor graduation rates. Approximately one third of school counselors had averaged mean graduation rates that were two or more standard deviations from their school means.

These results suggest that school counselors’ 9th grade student graduation rates are consistent over time, influenced by school building assigned to, and vary significantly both between individual school counselors and in comparison to the averaged school graduation rates.