School Counselor Certification in Texas
Texas school counselors are experienced educators; they are required to have teaching experience before transitioning to a school counseling role. Experienced out-of-state school counselors, however, may substitute school counseling experience for classroom teaching experience.
School counseling certification is also dependent on pursuing a graduate degree, passing an examination, and clearing a criminal background check.
The Texas school counseling certificate is classified as special services. The certificate is valid from early childhood through grade 12 (EC-12).
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Select a Texas School Counselor Certification topic...
- Education Requirements for School Counselors
- Examination Requirement
- Background Checks
- The application process (Links to Application Forms)
- Out of State School Counselors
- Additional contact information and schools offering School Counseling degree programs.
School Counselor Educational Requirements
School counselors must have education at the master's level or higher (http://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Certification/Additional_Certifications/Student_Services_Certificates/). Degrees must be granted by institutions that hold recognized accreditation.
TEA refers students to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board website to view a list of acceptable accrediting agencies (http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/index.cfm?objectid=106BD76B-C2C9-1CED-D9AEAF20A2CEB4C3).
The student will need to complete an approved Educator Preparation Program (EPP) in school counseling. Prospective students may search for approved educator programs by certificate area (https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECOnline/approvedprograms.asp).
Texas has identified six content standards for school counselors (http://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=19&pt=7&ch=239&rl=15).
School counselor candidates take TExES Examination 152: School Counselor (http://cms.texes-ets.org/texes/prepmaterials/tests-at-a-glance). The test covers understanding students, meeting their individual needs, and developing and implementing school counseling programs. (http://cms.texes-ets.org/texes/prepmaterials/texes-preparation-manuals). As of early 2015, the test still incorporates the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM); the purpose is to give educator preparation programs time to transition to the new classification system.
Candidates must be approved to test (http://cms.texes-ets.org/texes/). Those who are enrolled in Texas EPPs will receive authorization from the program. Other candidates will be approved by the Texas Education Agency following credential review. The first step is creating an online TEA account.
The examination is computer-administered. It is available at testing centers throughout the state. Candidates can click their region of the state to see locations and test codes (http://cms.texes-ets.org/cat/testcenters/). The examination is also available in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mexico, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, and at a limited number of sites in other parts of the nation (http://cms.texes-ets.org/cat/test-centers-outside-texas/).
The school counselor examination is classified as limited administration. Currently, it is available during seven annual testing windows. Testing dates and registration deadlines are found in the registration handbook. Candidates may register only after they have received approval and created accounts with TEA and Educational Testing Service (ETS). The fee is $120. Candidates who need registration assistance may call ETS at 1-800-205-2626.
Examination information is available on the TEA website (http://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Certification/Educator_Testing) and the ETS website (http://cms.texes-ets.org/cat/registrationinformation). The preparation manual breaks the domains into competencies and provides sample questions (http://cms.texes-ets.org/texes/prepmaterials/texes-preparation-manuals).
Test takers receive scaled scores between 100 and 300; 240 is the threshold for passing (http://cms.texes-ets.org/cat/testreportsandscorereporting).
TEA will automatically receive test results. Candidates can access their score reports online. Test results are released according to a published schedule; they are available approximately seven days after testing. A 45-day wait time is imposed after a failed examination attempt.
Assessment Options for Out-of-State Educators
Out-of-state educators may be exempted from Texas assessments if they have taken other comparable assessments (http://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Certification/Out-of-State_Certification/Comparable_Out-of-State_Tests). TEA will accept Colorado and Oklahoma school counselor examinations as well as the Praxis school guidance and counseling test. National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) examinations may also be accepted. State certified school counselors who have taken the NBPTS assessment are directed to call 800-228-3224. Individuals who have passed the Praxis school counselor examination are directed to call ETS at 800-772-9476. Individuals who have taken state-specific tests will need to submit the verification form found on the TEA website (http://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Certification/Out-of-State_Certification/Comparable_Out-of-State_Tests/).
Out-of-state educators may be issued one-year certificates pending examination (http://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Certification/Out-of-State_Certification/Out-of-State_Certified_Educators/).
Background Check Requirement
The Texas Education Agency requires educators to have fingerprint-based state and national criminal history checks (http://tea.texas.gov/index2.aspx?id=5844). Both in-state and out-of-state candidates will use the approved vendor. However, procedures will be different.
In-state candidates will have fingerprints made electronically. They will initiate the process by paying the $37.75 fee online through the Educator Certification Online System (ECOS). They will be issued FAST passes which will be required for scheduling. They will need to pay an additional $9.95 fee at the time of fingerprinting.
Out-of-state candidates will also pay $37.75 through the online system. They will receive their fingerprint packets in the mail. Fingerprints may be made at a local law enforcement agency; TEA notes that a fee may be assessed locally. The applicant will later mail the card to the Texas vendor for electronic processing; a $9.95 fee will be assessed at this stage.
In-state candidates can expect TEA to receive background check results five to seven business days after fingerprinting. For out-of-state candidates, the process will be longer; it may take eight weeks from the time of fingerprint submission.
Individuals with questions about the fingerprinting process may call 512-936-8400 and select Option 3. They may also opt to fill out an online contact form (https://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Certification/Fingerprinting/).
The Application Process
Candidates may apply online through the ECOS system. A first step is to create a Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL) account. TEA has provided instruction manuals for using the system (https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECOnline/login.asp).
Out-of-state school counselors will submit transcripts and copies of their credentials. They will pay a $180 fee through the online system.
Out-of-state school counselors who do not have teaching experience will need to document two years of school services experience (http://tea.texas.gov/interiorpage.aspx?id=25769812541).
School counseling certification information is found on the website of the Texas Education Agency (https://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Certification/). Rules are found in Chapter 239 of Texas administrative code (http://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.ViewTAC?tac_view=5&ti=19&pt=7&ch=239&sch=A&rl=Y).
Certification customer service is available weekdays from 8:00 to 5:00 at 512-936-8400. The Texas school counseling certificate is classified as special services (http://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Certification/Educator_Testing/).
The Texas School Counselor Association is an additional professional resource (http://www.txca.org/tca/TSCA_Home.asp).
You may also be interested in the Texas Counselor license requirements.