West Virginia school counselors are issued student support certificates by the West Virginia Department of Education. The school counseling certificate is issued at the PK-AD (pre-kindergarten to adult) level. Initial credentialing is based on education and examination. Higher levels require work experience.
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To achieve initial student support certification in school counseling, a student will need to earn a master's degree from an accredited institution. He or she will also need to complete an accredited school counseling program.
In-state programs are subject to state policy. They must include field experiences, with performance assessed according to Policy 5100 (http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/index.html#p5100). The Department of Education expects that students will have GPAs of at least 2.5.
The Office of Educator Preparation has prepared a list of state programs (http://wvde.state.wv.us/certification/).
Students who opt for out-of-state programs will document, at the time of application, that the program met minimum standards.
West Virginia school counselors take the Praxis II Professional School Counselor Examination. It is administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS).
Some students may take a pre-professional (academic) skills test en route to licensure. West Virginia requires that educators pass one unless they qualify for an exemption as described in WVBE Policy 5202 §126CSR136- 10.1.b.3.F.1. They may qualify based on an earned master’s or qualifying scores on other college entrance examinations. The state-adopted academic skills test is also offered by ETS as part of the Praxis series.
Praxis examinations are administered by computer at Prometric assessment centers. There are also some college-based testing centers. West Virginia assessment centers are located in Beckley, Charleston, Huntington, and Morgantown.
The school counselor examination is available during monthly testing windows (http://www.ets.org/praxis/register/centers_dates). Pre-registration is required; this may be carried out online. The fee is $115.
The qualifying score on the current version (5421) is 156. Candidates who test in West Virginia will have their scores reported to the Department of Education. Those who test in other states will need to enter the West Virginia test code to ensure that scores are reported (http://www.ets.org/praxis/wv/requirements/).
Test takers can download study guides from the ETS website.
School counseling applicants will use student support certification application forms. There are separate forms for in-state and out-of-state applicants. Both are available for download from the DOE website (http://wvde.state.wv.us/certification/forms/).
The West Virginia Department of Education will require official transcripts.
Also required is a release form for background check information; this is referred to as ‘Form 7’. Form 7 requires notarization.
In the case of in-state applicants, an institutional official will sign the application form, verifying that requirements were met.
The applicant will need to provide an email address.
The application fee is $35 for in-state candidates, $100 for out-of-state candidates. Payment is to be made online (https://wveis.k12.wv.us/certpayment/).
Application materials are to be sent to the following address:
West Virginia Department of Education
Office of Professional Preparation
Building 6, Room 722
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Charleston, WV 25305
First-time applicants are required to have fingerprint-based criminal background checks (http://wvde.state.wv.us/certification/forms/firstime.html). Fingerprints are processed by West Virginia’s approved vendor, L-1/ MorphoTrust. The Department of Education notes that background checks performed for other agencies, including school systems, cannot be used for certification purposes.
In-state applicants may opt for ‘Livescan’ electronic scanning. They also have the option of having fingerprints made on traditional cards, then submitting the cards to MorphoTrust for scanning.
Out-of-state candidates should request two fingerprint cards from the Department of Education. They will have their fingerprints rolled, then send the completed cards to MorphoTrust. MorphoTrust has provided a packet for individuals submitting “hard cards” (https://wv.l1enrollment.com/OpenNetworkPortal/spring/customer?execution=e1s3). It includes the required documents (authorization sheet, information sheet) as well as a description of the process.
Candidates can find a list of fingerprinting sites, and also access state-specific information and documents, by clicking ‘West Virginia’ on the MorphoTrust map (http://www.identogo.com/). MorphoTrust can be reached at 855-766-7746.
West Virginia applicants pay the $45.35 background check fee to the vendor.
Out-of-state applicants can be certificated on the basis of 1) having completed approved programs through regionally accredited institutions or 2) holding current licensure based on completion of an approved program. The distinction is in the documentation required.
An applicant who does not hold a current license will need an institutional recommendation from the appropriate official. The official will confirm, on the application form, that the program met West Virginia field experience requirements and that the applicant maintained the minimum GPA. The certifying official will note whether the individual displayed pre-professional skills in speaking, listening, and computer literacy and whether he or she passed the examinations required in West Virginia. The official will also affirm that, to the best of his or her knowledge, the individual is of good character and is qualified to perform licensed duties.
A professional who is currently licensed in another state will instead include a copy of the license.
A school counselor will need to serve for at least two years before earning a five-year professional certificate; at least one year must be in West Virginia.
In most cases, it will also be necessary to complete six semester hours of qualifying coursework. A professional who is already at the “master’s plus 30 semester hours” salary rank will not need to pursue the additional coursework. Nor will a professional who has reached the age of 60.
The West Virginia Department of Education (http://wvde.state.wv.us/certification/) can be reached at 304-558-7010.
The West Virginia School Counselor Association, a division of the American School Counselor Association, serves as an additional professional resource (http://www.wvsca.camp8.org).
You may also be interested in the West Virginia Counselor license requirements.