School Counselor Certification in Mississippi

Mississippi school counselors are licensed by the Mississippi Department of Education. The guidance and counseling certificate authorizes professionals to provide services for students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. It is issued on the basis of education, examination, and internship or professional experience.

A standard five-year school guidance and counseling license may be issued at any of three levels: Class AA, Class AAA, or Class AAAA.

A teaching credential is not a mandatory prerequisite. However, prospective school counselors who do not hold educator credentials will have additional pre-licensure requirements.

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Educational Requirements

In most cases, school counselors must have master's degrees in guidance and counseling (http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/docs/educator-licensure/licensure-guidelines-k-12.pdf?sfvrsn=0). Those who do not hold licenses as educators will need to enroll in approved school counseling programs that include a year of internship. The yearlong internship is not mandatory for individuals who hold standard five year educator licenses.

In-state educator preparation programs are approved by the Certification Commission and the State Board of Education. A list is available online (http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/educator-licensure/teacher-and-administration-preparation). The Department of Education notes that out-of-state programs are not subject to the approval process but must be authorized in their own jurisdiction. All coursework is to be completed through regionally accredited schools.

Individuals can also demonstrate that educational requirements have been met by earning National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) certification through the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). The credential is dependent on completing a 48 semester hour graduate degree in counseling (http://www.nbcc.org/Certification/NationalCertifiedSchoolCounselor). Coursework must cover the following areas:

  • School counseling fundamentals
  • Appraisal of individuals
  • Group counseling
  • Social diversity
  • Career development
  • Practicum/ internship

Professionals who do not already hold licensure as school counselors are eligible for the NCSC credential only after three years of supervised experience.

Examination Requirements

Mississippi school counselors will take one or two examinations en route to licensure.

All candidates for initial credentialing in school counseling will take Praxis Examination 5421: Professional School Counselor (http://www.ets.org/praxis/ms/requirements). It is a computer-delivered multiple choice test based on the National Model of the American School Counselor Association. The examination covers 1) foundations of the profession 2) service delivery 3) management and 4) accountability. The minimum passing score is 156. Candidate guides and other study resources are available on the Educational Testing Service (ETS) website (http://www.ets.org/praxis/prepare/materials/5421).

In many cases, candidates for initial licensure will take the CORE Academic Test, a basis skills test that has replaced the Praxis II. The Mississippi Department of Education has provided a document outlining the differences between the two tests (http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/docs/educator-licensure/ppst-and-core-comparison-chart.pdf?sfvrsn=2).

The CORE is also administered by ETS. It includes three subtests. The minimum score is 156 in reading, 162 in writing, and 150 in mathematics. Candidates must pass all three tests. The CORE test is not required of individuals who already hold standard five-year teaching licenses.

The school counselor examination is available in twelve-day monthly testing windows (http://www.ets.org/praxis/register/centers_dates/). The CORE is now available on an ongoing basis year-round (http://www.ets.org/praxis/register/centers_dates/). Tests are administered at Prometric testing centers and at some universities. Candidates may register online or by mail. There is an additional charge to register by telephone at 1-800-772-9476.

The Professional School Counselor Examination costs $115 (http://www.ets.org/praxis/about/fees). The CORE Academic Test costs $135. Each subtest, if taken individually, costs $85; there is a $125 fee to take two.

Candidates who test in Mississippi can expect their scores to be reported to the licensing agency. A candidate who has already taken a qualifying examination must ensure that the Department of Education receives a score report.

School counselors who are credentialed as National Certified School Counselors (NCSC) are exempted from Praxis II or CORE requirements. However, they must take two examinations in route to certification (http://www.nbcc.org/Certification/NationalCertifiedSchoolCounselor).

The Application Process

Prospective educators may apply online or by paper. Paper forms can be downloaded from the Department of Education website (http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/educator-licensure/licensure-application-k12). Individuals who opt for online application will begin by creating an account on the Educator Licensure Management System, or ELMS (https://sso.mde.ms.gov/Login/Login.aspx).

The Office of Educator Licensure will require official transcripts. Schools that participate in e-Scrip may send electronic transcripts; the Office notes that this is actually the quickest method.

The application form includes character determination questions. Applicants who answer “yes” to one or more questions will need to provide explanatory materials. If insufficient explanation is included, the Department may carry out its own confidential investigation.

Online applicants may need to submit some materials by mail. All supporting documentation should be included in one envelope. Mail is to be addressed to the following address:

Mississippi Department of Education
Office of Educator Licensure
P.O. Box 771
Jackson, MS 39205-0771

The certificate, once issued, can be viewed online. The Department of Education does not routinely mail certificates. However, a certificate holder has the option of paying a $5 fee for a duplicate license.

Out-of-State School Counselors.

The Office of Educator Licensure issues standard five-year licenses to educators who hold current licensing in other states. The out-of-state applicant will need to provide a copy of the license. The Mississippi Department of Education will also require transcripts and evidence of having passed an examination or met similar requirements.

An educator who holds provisional licensure in another jurisdiction may be issued a two-year license.

License Levels

Individuals with education at the master's level qualify for Class AA licenses once all requirements have been met. Those with school counseling degrees at the educational specialist level can earn Class AAA licenses while those with degrees at the doctoral level can earn Class AAAA.

Additional Information

School counselor licensing information is available on the Department of Education website (http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/educator-licensure). The Office of Educator Licensure can be reached by telephone at 601-359-3483. or by email at 'teachersupport at mde.k12.ms.us'.

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