School Counselor Licensure in Oregon

Oregon school counselors are licensed by the Teaching Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC). The school counseling credential may be issued at multiple levels. One authorizes service with preprimary and elementary students through grade eight. Another authorizes service with middle school and secondary students in grades five through twelve. School counselor licenses may also be issued that are valid for all grade levels.

Oregon school counselor licenses authorize substitute teaching as well as counseling. Teaching experience is not mandatory. However, prospective school counselors who do not have teaching experience will have additional practicum requirements.

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School Counselor Educational Requirements

Oregon school counselors must meet degree and program requirements. The qualifying master's may be earned in education, counseling, or behavioral science. The individual will need to complete an approved school counseling program. However, this may or may not be pursued in conjunction with the master's degree.

In-state programs are subject to an extensive set of curricular standards. Oregon has aligned its school counseling standards with those of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, or CACREP (http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/oars_500/oar_584/584_018.html).

Experience Requirements

An individual who has two years of teaching experience will be required to complete a 200 hour counseling practicum prior to issuance of an initial license (http://www.oregon.gov/tspc/Pages/News_Release_021315_Perm/584-018-0305.aspx). The individual will put together a portfolio or work sample to demonstrate school counseling competence.

An individual who does not have teaching experience will need a 600 hour school counseling practicum. Additionally, he or she will need a 200 hour teaching practicum; it will be necessary to assume teaching responsibility for at least 75 hours. Candidates without teaching backgrounds will need to assemble portfolios or work samples to illustrate both school counseling competency and competency in fostering student learning.

The licensing agency recently issued a policy statement to make it clear that the teaching practicum is required only of individuals seeking licensure at the initial level (http://www.oregon.gov/tspc/Pages/News_Release_021315_Perm/584-018-0305.aspx).

Professionals who are not authorized to work at all grade levels may earn the authorization by completing an additional practicum. In some cases, they may earn authorization in an adjacent level through work experience. (Performing services out of level is allowed for only a limited period of time.)

Examination Requirements

A prospective Oregon school counselor must pass a test of U.S. and Oregon civil rights laws and professional ethics. The test, titled ‘Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Educational Environment’, is offered by Oregon Licensure Assessments, or ORELA (http://www.orela.nesinc.com/TestView.aspx?f=HTML_FRAG/OR008_TestPage.html). It is a computer-delivered assessment, available year-round at Pearson VUE testing centers. Study materials are available on the ORELA website (http://www.orela.nesinc.com/TestView.aspx?f=HTML_FRAG/OR008_PrepMaterials.html).

An Oregon candidate can also expect to take a basic verbal and computational skills test. Oregon programs impose assessment as a condition of admittance; the requirement is waived only if the student has earned a master's prior to admission (http://www.oregon.gov/tspc/Pages/Educator_Programs.aspx). The student may be asked to take the National Evaluation Series (NES) Essential Academic Skills, offered by ORELA. The state also recognizes the Core Academic Skills for Educators, offered as part of the Praxis series, as well as the basic skills tests used in California and Washington (http://www.oregon.gov/tspc/Pages/Testing.aspx). Information about the Core is available on the ETS website (http://www.ets.org/praxis/prepare/materials).

The basic skills requirement may be waived for master’s level school counselors who hold licensure in other states (http://www.oregon.gov/tspc/Pages/Testing-Basic-Skills-Waiver.aspx).

Oregon no longer requires school counselors to take a content examination. In 2012, it was determined that the examinations would be optional for school counselors and others working under school personnel licenses (http://www.tspc.oregon.gov/support/unit_page.asp?id=program). However, the Teaching Standards and Practices Commission notes that Oregon programs may still require the assessments as part of their data collection process.

Criminal Background Check Requirement

Oregon requires state and federal criminal background checks. Only candidates who have previously been fingerprinted for the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission and have held licenses within the prior three years can be exempted.

Candidates may have their fingerprints made at state or local police stations, Oregon educational institutions, Education Service Districts, or other authorized agencies. They are directed to bring a 9 by 12 envelope to the fingerprinting site along with the fingerprint handler sheet; the latter may be downloaded from the TSPC website.

The fingerprint handler is to sign the form and seal the envelope. Fingerprint cards and handler sheets may be submitted to the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission with the license application. (Candidates are advised not to send them before application.) There is a $57 fee, which may be combined with the application fee.

The Application Process

Application and instruction forms can be downloaded from the TSPC website (http://www.oregon.gov/tspc/Pages/Forms_and_Instruct.aspx). The required application form is titled C-1.

The applicant will sign a statement of professionalism and answer questions about legal and professional history. Applicants who answer "yes" to character questions must provide detailed explanation.

The application fee is $100. Individuals who wish to pay by credit card may call 503-378-3586.

Application materials are to be mailed to the following address:

TSPC
250 Division St. NE
Salem, Oregon 97301

TSPC does not issue paper licenses. School counselors can check status online using ‘Educator Look Up’.

Achieving Higher Credentials: Continuing and Initial II Licenses

The Initial I license is time limited. A school counselor may renew it twice for a total of nine years. The professional will need to move up to Initial II or Continuing/ Professional licensure.

In order to achieve an Initial II license, the individual will need to complete additional graduate coursework.

School counselors can earn continuing licensure only after three years of professional experience.

Out-of-State School Counselors

Out-of-state candidates who have held educational licenses (other than substitute teaching) in other states will need to provide license information.

Out-of-state school counselors will first qualify for one-year transitional licenses (http://www.oregon.gov/tspc/Pages/Out-of-State-Counselor.aspx). This will allow them extra time to meet state requirements like civil rights examination (http://www.oregon.gov/tspc/Pages/Testing-pop-up-for-civil-right-section.aspx).

Professionals who hold unrestricted licenses in other U.S. states pay an application fee of $120.

Placement of Professionals Who Have Not Met Licensing Requirements

There are multiple situations in which a professional who does not meet all requirements for an Initial I counseling license may be assigned school counseling duties. The individual will hold some type of license (http://tspc.oregon.gov/licensure/licensure.asp).

Individuals who have not yet met licensing requirements may be granted emergency licenses (http://www.oregon.gov/tspc/Pages/News_Release_021315_Perm/584-070-0132.aspx). In this instance, the employing school district will be a co-applicant. Emergency certification is not granted for periods exceeding one year except under unusual circumstances.

A restricted transitional license may be issued to a student who has a bachelor’s degree and has completed at least half of a school counseling program.

Teachers may also be placed into part-time school counseling positions at the grade levels in which they are licensed to teach (http://www.oregon.gov/tspc/Pages/News_Release_021315_Perm/584-070-0120.aspx). The maximum allowable FTE in this situation is .49.

Additional Information

The Oregon Teaching Standards and Practices Commission (http://www.oregon.gov/TSPC/Pages/index.aspx) can be reached by telephone at 503-378-3586. Individuals with questions may also use the online contact form (http://www.oregon.gov/tspc/Pages/contact_us.aspx).

Rules change periodically. Recent changes are listed as Commission Rule Actions (http://www.oregon.gov/tspc/pages/recent_comm_actions.aspx).

The Oregon School Counselor Association, Inc. is not involved with the licensing process but is an additional professional resource (http://www.oscainc.org/).

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