In Nebraska, school counseling is a teaching endorsement. Individuals become school counselors after they have a teaching credential and experience. To earn the endorsement, they must complete master's degrees. Beginning in the summer of 2015, a content examination will be required as well.
The school counseling credential may be issued at any of three levels: pre-kindergarten to 6th grade, 7th to 12th grade, or pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
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Nebraska requires two years of teaching experience.
Experience specific to the school counseling role can be earned through supervised practicum at the graduate level. The student will need at least 100 hours of pre-internship school-based experience. The internship itself must be at least 450 hours. It must take place at the grade level in which credentialing is sought.
Credentialing is based on master's level education. The specialization must be school counseling. Program length is to be at least 36 semester hours (http://www.education.ne.gov/Legal/webrulespdf/Rule24_Guidelines_2014.pdf).
The Department of Education has published a list of approved programs for the current academic year (http://www.education.ne.gov/EducatorPrep/IHE/ProgramApproval/BoardApproval-20004/BoardApprovalReport.pdf). The Department can accept teacher training approved in other states provided that Nebraska's requirements are met (http://www.education.ne.gov/TCERT/pdfs/Reciprocity.pdf). Decisions are made on an individual basis.
The American School Counselor Association cites the following as additional Nebraska requirements: special education competencies and human relations (http://www.counseling.org/PublicPolicy/SchoolCounselingRegs2012.pdf). This coursework may not be included in the school counseling program. The Department of Education has provided a list of schools that offer approved human relations courses (http://www.education.ne.gov/TCERT/pdfs/HRTne.pdf).
Beginning September 1, 2015, school counselors will be required to take the Professional School Counselor Examination, a part of the Praxis examination series for educators (http://www.education.ne.gov/EducatorPrep/TopPages/SkillsTesting.html). The new requirements apply to professionals in other content areas as well. Individuals who earn teaching credentials by this date will not be required to take examinations in areas in which they hold credentialing. However, they will need to take the examinations corresponding to new endorsement areas. The Department of Education has provided a list of frequently asked questions about the examination process (http://www.education.ne.gov/EducatorPrep/IHE/SkillsTesting/ContentTest-FAQ.pdf). Individuals seeking certification after the effective date can consult the ‘Nebraska Requirements’ page of the ETS website (http://www.ets.org/praxis/ne/requirements/).
Preparation materials for the school counselor examination are available from ETS (http://www.ets.org/praxis/prepare/materials). The minimum passing score is 156. The Nebraska Department of Education notes that an examination may be attempted multiple times if necessary.
Nebraska has long required a basic skills assessment for first-time educators. The Core Academic Skills for Educators has replaced the Praxis I. Minimum scores are different for the two examinations. The Department of Education has provided a fact sheet listing minimum reading, writing, and mathematics scores on the Core and Praxis I (http://www.education.ne.gov/EducatorPrep/TopPages/SkillsTesting.html). Composite scores can be accepted in some instances.
Educators can be exempted from basic skills testing if they have two years of consecutive teaching experience or are certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Individuals who have not yet met the Core/ Praxis I requirement may be eligible for provisional credentialing.
Core reading, writing, and mathematics tests are available on an ongoing basis at Prometric assessment centers and some other approved sites.
The Nebraska Department of Education requires fingerprint-based criminal background checks for applicants who have not held Nebraska educator licensing and have not lived continuously in Nebraska for the five years preceding application. Applicants seeking exemption on the basis of residency will need to submit a list of residences covering the period in question.
Individuals who need to be fingerprinted can obtain fingerprinting cards from the Department of Education. The individual will submit two fingerprint cards at the time of application, along with the required fingerprinting fee.
Individuals can now apply for their teaching credentials online; the Department of Education notes that this is the preferred method. Applications and supporting forms are available for download from the DOE website (http://www.education.ne.gov/TCERT/pdfs/downloaddoc.pdf).
Some application materials will be sent from third parties.
The Department will require an institutional recommendation from the preparing institution.
Transcripts will be required. E-transcripts can be accepted if sent by the registrar's office.
Applicants will list all educator experience from the preceding five year period and will provide copies of out-of-state licenses. They will also answer professional and personal fitness questions. Applicants who answer "yes" to these questions will need to provide supporting documentation. Those who answer “no” to the citizenship question will need to submit an additional form.
Individuals applying for a first certificate that is valid in both public and private school settings will pay $55 if fingerprints are not required and $105 if they are. Fees are reduced by $15 if the applicant is seeking credentialing that is valid for employment in only nonpublic settings. An educator pays $40 to add an endorsement (if not simultaneously renewing other credentials).
The Department of Education notes that the process can take six to eight weeks. The credentialing agency does not routinely acknowledge receipt of application materials but may send correspondence if required documentation is not received in a timely manner. Applicants can check their status online.
Certification analysts can be reached by telephone at 402-471-0739 or by email at ‘nde.tcertweb at nebraska.gov’. The school counseling specialist can be reached at 402-471-4811 (http://www.education.ne.gov/CARED/contact.html).
The Nebraska School Counselor Association is an additional professional resource, but does not issue licenses or certifications (http://neschoolcounselor.org).