School Guidance and Counseling - FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

1. School Counselor Certification Information

2. School Counselors Serving Special Education Students

3. School Counselors and Response to Intervention (RtI)

4. What are the certification requirements for a Texas school counselor certificate?

5. Where can I find a list of Texas approved school counselor educator certification programs?

6. What is the Texas Guidance and Counseling Plan (A Model Developmental Guidance and Counseling Program for Texas Public Schools-A guide for Program Development Pre-K – 12th Grade)?

7. Where can I read the most recent TEA correspondence to school districts?

8. How can I find information on conferences, training, workshops, newsletters, etc. for school counselors?

9. Student Records: Does a parent have an unrestricted right of access to the school counseling records of his or her minor child?

10. What is the State of Texas’ Minimum Salary Schedule for Professional School Counselors, Experience, and Rules for Creditable Years of Service?

11. How do I determine if a continuing education program is approved by the State Board of Educator Certification?

12. Where do I find information on the Counselor to Student Ratios?

1. School Counselor Certification Information

A: Over the years the certification of Texas Professional School Counselors evolved. Originally, there were three types of school counselor certification levels—“Counselor,” “Special Education Counselor,” and “Vocational Counselor.”

Beginning in 2001, a transition began and the “School Counselor” certification was added.

In 2004, the State Board of Educator Certification stopped issuing the “Counselor,” “Special Education Counselor,” and “Vocational Counselor” certifications and the rules for these certifications expired. Only the “school counselor” certification has been issued since 2004.

The transitional provision (19TAC 239.30) (outside source) allowed individuals certified as a “Counselor.” “Special Education Counselor,” and “Vocational Counselor” to continue as a “school counselor.” Today individuals certified as “school counselor” as well as those previously certified as “Counselor,” “Special Education Counselor,” or “Vocational Counselor” are certified to provide Comprehensive, Developmental Guidance & Counseling Program services to all students including special education students in accordance with Chapter 33 of the Texas Education Code (outside source).

For additional questions on certification contact the State Board of Educator Certification at 512-936-8400.

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2. School Counselors Serving Special Education Students

A: School Counselors including individuals previously certified as “Counselor,” “Special Education Counselor,” and “Vocational Counselor” cannot make Special Education Eligibility Determinations under 19 TAC 89.1040 (outside source). The determination must be made by a licensed specialist in school psychology (LSSP), educational diagnostician, or other appropriately certified or licensed practitioner with experience and training in the area of the disability or a certified professional for a specific eligibility category [Reference19 TAC 89.1040] (outside source).

When serving special education students, certified School Counselors including those previously certified as “Counselor,” “Special Education Counselor,” and “Vocational Counselor” can:

  • provide the Comprehensive, Developmental Guidance & Counseling Program in accordance with Chapter 33 of the Texas Education Code  (outside source) to all students including special education students ;
  • serve as a member of an Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee;
  • serve on the Response to Intervention team; and
  • provide related services to special education students prescribed in the student’s Individual Educational Plan (IEP) until or unless the needs of the student exceeds the school counselors training/scope of work. When this circumstance occurs the school counselor must refer the student back to the ARD committee for re-evaluation and possible referral or the district must ensure that the school counselor obtains specialized training to assist in meeting the student’s individual needs.

For assistance with serving special education students contact your local Regional Education Service Center staff specialist.

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3. School Counselors and Response to Intervention (RtI)

A: RtI may be described as a model addressing the needs of all students through a continuum of services which provide: (1) high-quality instruction and scientific, researched-based, tiered intervention strategies aligned with individual student need; (2) frequent monitoring of student progress to make results-based academic or behavioral decisions; (3) data-based school improvement; and (4) the application of student response data to important educational decisions (such as those regarding placement, intervention, curriculum, and instructional goals and methodologies). These activities typically occur in the general education setting as schools assist struggling students prior to and, often, in lieu of a referral to special education. Local education agency (LEA) general and special education staff coordinate and collaborate in developing a process implementing this framework.

School counselors play a vital role in the process of RtI. However, it makes the most sense for the instructional leader (i.e. principal) to direct RtI efforts. School counselors should be team members, not directing the RtI effort. Response to Intervention (RtI) is not a program that consists of a set of pre-established procedures, and the implementation of an RtI model involves aspects that may exceed the role and authority of the school counselor. The following are examples of how an RtI framework may require the principal’s direct leadership:

  • RtI can involve the re-allocation of resources such as federal, state, and local funds;
  • RtI can involve the shifting of staff duties and responsibilities;
  • RtI can involve decision making that impacts entire school districts;
  • RtI involves supervision (fidelity of implementation) 
  • RtI involves buy-in from principal;
  • RtI can involve a shift in current instructional practices (i.e. the inclusion of students in the general ed. setting who were served in a special ed. setting previously);
  • RtI involves professional development;
  • RtI involves support provided to staff by the instructional leader;
  • RtI involves collaboration (common planning, aligning of curriculum, dialogue among staff etc.); and
  • RtI involves change.

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4. What are the certification requirements for a Texas school counselor certificate?

A: The certification requirements in Title19 Texas Administrative Code, § 239.20 (outside source), state that to be eligible to receive the standard school counselor certificate, the candidate must:

1. Successfully Complete a School Counselor Preparation Program
Note: There are numerous counselor preparation programs but only certain programs are approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to recommend students for a Texas School Counselor Certificate. Candidates seeking a Texas School Counselor Certificate must complete a TEA approved School Counselor Certificate Program. Unapproved programs cannot recommend students to TEA for certification. For details on a program contact the program directly.

a. Approved Programs: Information regarding approved school counselor preparation programs is located on the SBEC Educator Certification Online System (outside source) website.

b. Standards for a School Counselor Certificate: Standards for the School Counselor Certificate Rule 239.15 (outside source), is located on the Texas Register website.

2. Pass the School Counselor Certification Exam Note: Before a candidate can sit for the exam, they must receive approval to take the exam from their Texas Educator Preparation Program. Contact your counselor preparation program to receive approval to test.

3. Hold a Master's Degree from an Accredited Institution of Higher Education Note: The counselor preparation program determines the type of master’s degree that a candidate must hold. Contact the program you plan to attend for details.

4. Have Two School Years of Classroom Teaching Experience in a Public or Accredited Private School Note: The teaching experience is evaluated by the counselor preparation program. For questions contact the counselor preparation program you plan to attend. Classroom teacher means an educator who is employed by a school district and who, not less than an average of four hours each day, teachers in an academic instructional setting or a career and technology instructional setting. Out-of-state teaching experience can be considered. Substitute teaching experience would not normally be accepted for certification purpose.

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5. Where can I find a list of Texas approved school counselor educator certification programs?

A: There are numerous counselor preparation programs but only certain programs are approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to recommend students for a Texas School Counselor Certificate. Candidates seeking a Texas School Counselor Certificate must complete a TEA-approved School Counselor Certificate Program (outside source). Unapproved programs cannot recommend students to TEA for certification. For details on a program contact the program directly.

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6. What is the Texas Guidance and Counseling Plan (A Model Developmental Guidance and Counseling Program for Texas Public Schools-A guide for Program Development Pre-K – 12th Grade)?

A: The plan provides a model to ensure that all students in Texas benefit from comprehensive, developmental school guidance and counseling programs. The guide allows for educators to develop, validate, or improve their school district’s guidance program and enhance efforts in increased student achievement and success.

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7. Where can I read the most recent TEA correspondence to school districts?

A: All TEA general correspondence is posted at the TEA Correspondence Web page.

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8. How can I find information on conferences, training, workshops, newsletters, etc. for school counselors?

A: 1. The Texas Counseling Association (outside source) in partnership with the Texas Education Agency conducts ongoing statewide training for School Counselors.

2. Texas Counselors Network(outside source) funded by the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998 through the Texas Education Agency provides training and support.

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9. STUDENT RECORDS: Does a parent have an unrestricted right of access to the school counseling records of his or her minor child?

A: Texas Attorney General Opinion No. JC-0538 states the following: Generally, all student records are available to parents. Only under very narrow and unusual circumstances may a minor child’s school counseling records be withheld from a parent. Under the Federal Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act, a public school may withhold a minor child’s counseling records from a parent only if the records are kept in the sole possession of the counselor, are used only as the counselor’s personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the counselor. Within this circumscribed category, state law permits the counselor to withhold a minor child’s records only if the counselor is a “professional,” as defined in section 611 .001(2) of the Health and Safety Code, and further, if the counselor “determines that release” of such record “would be harmful to the patient’s physical, mental, or emotional health.” If the counselor does not fall within the category of licensed professional under section 611 .001(2) of the Health and Safety Code, section 26.004 of the Education Code prevails, and the parent “is entitled to access to all written records” of the school district “concerning the parent’s child, including . . . counseling records.” For an answer to this question reference.

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10. What is the State of Texas’ Minimum Salary Schedule for Professional School Counselors, Experience, and Rules for Creditable Years of Service?

A: The minimum salary schedules, experience and rules for creditable years of service is located on the Texas Education Agency website

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11. How do I determine if a continuing education program is approved by the State Board for Educator Certification?

A: You can obtain a list of approved CPE providers from the Texas Education Agency Continuing Professional Education website.

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12. What is the recommended counselor-to-student ratio?

A: The number of counselors needed to staff the program is dependent on the students' and community's needs and on the goals and design of the local program. The ratios should be sufficiently low to meet the identified, high priority needs of the students and the school community.

It is clear that the larger the counselor's student load, the less individual attention students receive; the smaller the student load, the more individual attention is allowed for. If the district or campus staff identifies high priority needs of students who require individual or small group attention, the adopted ratio must reflect that. For example, if a high school program deems it necessary to hold individual conferences to facilitate students' individual planning, a ratio of 1:300 might be necessary. The number of students in a counselor's student load who have intensified needs for responsive services dictates lower ratios. Special needs populations include students who are educationally/economically disadvantaged, physically/emotionally disabled or abused, highly mobile, dropout prone, and/or migrant.

Ratio recommendations are wide ranging. The American School Counselor Association (outside source) recommends a maximum ratio of 1:250. The Texas Counseling Association (outside source), Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (outside source), and the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (outside source) have recommended ratios of 1:350.

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