A State by State Counselor Guide

School Counselor Certification Requirements in Arkansas

The Arkansas guidance and counseling license is granted by the Department of Education and is based on examination, education, and experience. Applicants must also pass criminal background checks. Arkansas school guidance counselors are licensed to work with students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.

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Educational Requirements

Arkansas school counselors have degrees at the master's level. Arkansas educator programs are to be approved by the Office of Educator Licensure (http://www.arkansased.org/divisions/human-resources-educator-effectiveness-and-licensure/educator-licensure-unit/educator-preparation). The American School Counselor Association cites 33 semester hours as the minimum program length.

The Arkansas Department of Education has published a list of school counselor competencies (http://www.arkansased.org/public/userfiles/HR_and_Educator_Effectiveness/Educator_Prep/Competency_PDFs_81214/Guidance_Counseling_First_License_K_12_08514.pdf). Competencies are drawn from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Programs, the American School Counselor Association, and the Praxis examinations for counselors and educators.

The ‘professional practice’ standard references both practicum and internship. A school counseling practicum is to be at least 100 hours and include at least 40 hours of direct service. Internship is to be at least 600 hours and include at least 240 hour of direct service. The internship is to commence after completion of the practicum; it is designed to be a comprehensive experience that lets the intern function as a school counselor. Supervision is to be provided by an on-site supervisor and a faculty member. There is to be an average of an hour a week of individual or triadic supervision and an average of an hour and a half a week of group supervision. The experience should include ongoing evaluation and conclude with a formal evaluation.

All educator programs outside Arkansas must be authorized by the state where they are located. They should be housed in institutions accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Arkansas educator program advisors can be reached at 501-683-1524 or 501-683-6618.

Experience Requirements

The Arkansas experience requirement may be met before or after an individual enrolls in a school counseling program. According to the American School Counselor Association, there are two ways to meet the requirement (http://schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors-members/careers-roles/state-certification-requirements). One is to be certified as a teacher in Arkansas (or to be eligible for Arkansas teacher certification) and have two years of teaching experience. The other is to complete an internship in school guidance counseling. Some Arkansas school guidance counseling programs enroll only licensed, experienced teacher while others have a pre-licensure track.

Examination Requirements

Arkansas guidance counselors must pass one or more examinations prior to licensure. All candidates are required to pass the Praxis II Professional School Counselor Examination. The examination is based on the American School Counselor Association National Model and is designed to assess competency for entry-level practice.

The Praxis II covers the following:

  • Foundations
  • Management
  • Service delivery
  • Accountability

The examination is multiple choice. The Arkansas Department of Education will accept test 0421 (paper-delivered) or 5421 (computer-delivered). Currently, however, the computer-delivered examination is the only one in use except in cases where an individual has been approved for special accommodations.

The guidance and counseling examination is available at authorized Prometric sites. ETS has provided a list of test sites and upcoming examination dates (http://www.ets.org/praxis/register/centers_dates). ETS has also published a school guidance and counseling study companion; the PDF handbook includes a content outline and practice questions as well as information about test day procedures (https://www.ets.org/praxis/prepare/materials/5421).

Candidates for initial licensure must also pass the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching examination at grade level K-6, 5-9, or 7-12 (https://www.ets.org/praxis/ar/requirements/).This requirement may be met well before the time that the candidate applies for licensure as a guidance counselor.

Background Check Requirement

Arkansas requires state and federal criminal background checks as well as child maltreatment registry checks (http://www.arkansased.org/divisions/human-resources-educator-effectiveness-and-licensure/educator-licensure-unit/background-check-requirements). In-state candidates will complete background checks prior to internship. Paperwork is available through a number of institutions, including the state's universities.

In-state candidates may initiate the criminal background check process online. They will need to make note of their transaction numbers. Fingerprints are to be made within 14 days of online registration.

The candidate will also need to send a notarized information release form to the Arkansas Child Maltreatment Central Registry; the fee for this service is $10.00.

Candidates who need more information about the background check process can contact the Public School Program Advisor at 501-682-4342.

The Application Process

Applications are available on the website of the Department of Education (http://www.arkansased.org/divisions/human-resources-educator-effectiveness-and-licensure/educator-licensure-unit/educator-licensure-application). Completed application packets are to be sent to the Office of Educator Licensure in Little Rock. Official transcripts may be enclosed or forwarded from the issuing institution. The application fee may be enclosed or paid online. (The fee is currently $75 for a standard educator license.)

Out-of-State School Counselors

Out-of-state candidates must provide transcripts as well as copies of their current licenses. They are expected to provide documentation of having passed the appropriate examination. However, this requirement is waived for individuals who can document three years of experience (http://www.arkansased.org/public/userfiles/rules/Current/ade317_Licensure_FINAL_11172013.pdf).

Out-of-state applicants will need to have training in child maltreatment (http://www.arkansased.org/divisions/human-resources-educator-effectiveness-and-licensure/educator-licensure-unit/licensure-by-reciprocity). In some instances, a provisional license is granted to an educator who has not met examination and child maltreatment training requirements.

International applicants must have their credentials professionally evaluated. The Department of Education has provided contact information for each approved agency (http://www.arkansased.org/public/userfiles/HR_and_Educator_Effectiveness/HR_Educator_Licensure/Private_Credential_Evaluation_Agencies.pdfevaluation ).

Adding School Counseling to an Existing License

School counseling and guidance can be an add-on license. The Department of Education notes, however, that the endorsement cannot be added by examination alone; in all cases, a master’s is required.

In some circumstances, educators may be placed in an area where they are not yet endorsed. The Department has provided an ‘Additional Licensure Plan’ document to assist individuals who are placed ‘out of area’ as school counselors in situations where a district has been unable to fill a position with a fully qualified professional (http://www.arkansased.org/public/userfiles/HR_and_Educator_Effectiveness/HR_Educator_Licensure/Revised%20ALPs/School%20Counseling%20Rev%203_2013.pdf).

Additional Information

School counselor license information is available on the webpage of the Licensure Unit (http://www.arkansased.org/divisions/human-resources-educator-effectiveness-and-licensure/educator-licensure-unit).

Candidates should be aware that regulations change periodically. The directory includes a full list of contact persons (http://www.arkansased.org/public/userfiles/Communications/servicedirectory2014.pdf).

The Arkansas School Counselor Association is an additional professional resource (https://sites.google.com/site/arschoolcounselorassociation/).

Capella University, offers three online CACREP- accredited master's programs: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, and School Counseling. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.

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