General Information about Guidance Counselors
The Iowa Department of Education administrative rules require every school district to have at least one guidance counselor and be working toward the goal of having one qualified counselor for every 350 students enrolled in the district. The guidance counselor is responsible for an articulated and sequential K-12 guidance program that is comprehensive in scope, preventive in design, driven by data and integral to the district’s instructional and curricular program. The DE website has many helpful documents about the school guidance counseling program on the A to Z index under Counseling.
Each year, the question comes up as to who may act as a school guidance counselor. In order to be a school guidance counselor an individual must have completed a master’s in school counseling (not mental health counseling). Iowa currently has six colleges offering a master’s degree in school counseling.
The Department of Education and the BoEE worked jointly to produce a matrix which clearly outlines who may deliver the school counseling program and activities. This matrix is found at: http://www.boee.iowa.gov/CounselorMatrix.html . If your school district is employing a licensed social worker, that individual may not provide direct instruction in any guidance areas. They may reinforce the curriculum that has been developed by the guidance counselor and is presented by either a guidance counselor or a licensed teacher in their own classroom setting. Any work that a licensed social worker does in the area of guidance or counseling must be done under the supervision of a licensed guidance counselor.
A non-teacher who has completed a master’s in school counseling is eligible for a Professional Service License. This license gives them full authority to act as a guidance counselor in an Iowa K-12 setting. If they have completed their entire program with the exception of the internship, they are eligible for a Class G license which allows them to practice while completing their internship on the job. This is the only conditional license available for a non teacher in a school counseling program. Licensed teachers may obtain conditional licensure for school counseling.
Individuals with Class G or Initial Professional Service licenses need to go through the mentoring and induction program and meet the Iowa Teaching Standards as they pertain to school counseling before obtaining their Professional Service License.