Virginia high school counselors and school law

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study was to assess the level of school law knowledge possessed by high school guidance counselors in the Commonwealth of Virginia in three specific areas: tort liability, counselors and their employment, and student rights. The study also sought to determine if the following independent variables significantly influenced school law knowledge: highest educational attainment level, where undergraduate degree was obtained (in or outside the Commonwealth), where counseling certification was obtained (in or outside the Commonwealth), years of experience in education, years experience as a counselor, membership(s) in professional organizations, if actively involved in the organization, type and recency of school law training, and demographic characteristics of the location where the counselor was employed.

A questionnaire was developed to collect demographic information and to assess the level of school law knowledge possessed by Virginia counselors. Four hundred surveys were mailed randomly to counselors throughout the Commonwealth and 250 (62.5%) were returned.

The mean score on the total test was 42%. The mean scores for the three scales were as follows: tort liability (scale 1, 35%), counselors and their employment (scale 2, 48%), and student rights (scale 3, 37%).

Analysis of variance or independent t-tests were used as appropriate to determine if significant differences existed between knowledge of school law and the variables listed above. Significant differences were realized at the .05 confidence level for each of the following variables:

  1. highest degree earned (scales 1 and 2),

  2. where degree was obtained (scale 1),

  3. membership in professional organizations (scale 2),

  4. prior school law training (all three scales), and

  5. demographic characteristics of counselor’s employment (scales 2 and 3).

A significant difference was not indicated between knowledge of school law and any of the other demographic variables.

As reported earlier the mean score was 42% for the entire test. The highest scale score was realized in scale 3 (48%). The total score was similar to Dumminger (41%) who studied Virginia teachers and found teacher’s school law knowledge to be less than adequate. In agreement with the Dumminger study, the school law knowledge possessed by Virginia high school guidance counselors was found to be less than adequate in the areas investigated.