School counselors as gatekeepers: guidance in poor versus affluent neighborhoods.

A. Yogev*, H. Roditi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies reveal that career guidance is usually based on a mixture of meritocratic criteria (academic ability and achievement) and nonmeritocratic considerations (students' SES and their social labeling by counselors). The present study argues that school counselors in affluent neighborhoods emphasize the meritocratic criteria, while those in poorer neighborhoods tend to focus on the more nonmeritocratic. This hypothesis is examined in a random sample of 210 male, primary school graduates from the 10 state schools of an Israeli town, 125 of whom are from schools in affluent neighborhoods, and 85 from schools in poorer neighborhoods. A path analysis of determinants of guidance to specific high school tracks shows that students' ethnicity and labeling as problematic directly affect guidance by counselors only in the poor neighborhoods. The effect of students' "problems" is due to their being labeled as problematic with respect to psychological or physical attributes rather than to behavioral problems at school. The findings are subsequently interpreted as reflecting a patronizing attitude toward lower status students by counselors. Additional studies which may further elaborate the determinants of guidance in poor versus affluent neighborhoods are proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-639
Number of pages15
Issue number87
StatePublished - Sep 1987


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