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November 14, 2016
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JP O'Hare

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State Education Department Announces Public Comment Period On Proposed Amendments to School Counselor Regulations

Based on public comment and stakeholder feedback, the New York State Education Department further revised proposed amendments to the school counselor regulations to strengthen and better prepare school counselors and to more clearly define their duties and responsibilities. The Department will hold a second public comment period from Nov. 30 to Dec. 30 on the proposed regulations.

“We know that with the right guidance and support, every child can succeed in school and in life,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “That’s why it’s so important to make sure that all children have access to individuals who provide counseling services and that those individuals are highly skilled.”  

“Every day, children face a variety of challenges at home, school, in their community and personally,” said Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “No matter what the issue, school counselors are there to work together with other school professionals to make sure these children get the help and services they need.”    

Working with the School Counselor Advisory Council (SCAC), in September 2015 the Department proposed amendments to improve both school counseling preparation programs and guidance programs, as well as the certification requirements for school counselors – and received significant public comment. The amendments proposed today make several revisions to those first recommended in September 2015 based on feedback received from the field. To see a chart that compares the amendments proposed in September 2015 with the amendments proposed today, visit here.

The proposed changes to the regulations would, among other things, require school districts to:

  • design a comprehensive developmental school counseling/guidance program, in coordination with the teaching staff and any appropriate pupil personnel service providers, to:
    • prepare students to participate effectively in their current and future educational programs
    • provide information related to college and careers, and
    • assist students who may exhibit challenges to academic success including, but not limited to, attendance or behavioral concerns and, where appropriate, to make a referral to a properly licensed professional and/or certified pupil personnel service provider for more targeted supports.
  • provide an annual individual progress review plan for students in grades 6-12 which shall reflect each student's educational progress and career plans;
  • provide additional direct student services as necessary such as crisis response, group counseling, and assisting students that exhibit attendance, academic, behavioral or adjustment concerns while encouraging parental involvement;
  • as needed, provide referrals to appropriate licensed professionals;
  • develop an annual school counseling plan that includes program objectives, activities, program development and maintenance planning, school counseling, curriculum development, professional development planning, evaluation methods based on data analysis of program results and closing the gap analysis reports to inform program improvement, and assessment of the resources necessary to support positive student outcomes; and
  • prepare a program outcomes report that includes an analysis of all systematic components of a comprehensive developmental school counseling/guidance program.

In addition, the proposed amendments would require each school district to establish a comprehensive developmental school counseling/guidance program advisory council to be comprised of stakeholders.

To ensure that individuals who provide school counselor services are well-qualified, the proposed amendments would also significantly change the requirements for individuals seeking to obtain an Initial School Counselor certificate and those seeking to obtain a Professional School Counselor certificate. Similarly, the proposed amendments would change the Program Registration requirements for institutions of higher education which seek to offer courses and programs that lead to such certificates. Details of these proposed amendments can be found here.

School Counselors are certified professionals who are uniquely qualified to address the developmental needs of all students through a comprehensive school counseling guidance program designed to address the academic, career and personal/social development of all students. School Counselors are trained to provide a combination of preventive and supportive services for all students from kindergarten through 12th grade, in the academic, social/emotional, and college/career domains by working collaboratively with administrators, teachers, school social workers, school psychologists, nurses, parents and community members. Through individual, group and classroom activities, school counselors monitor the development of academic and social/emotional skills of each student by developing personalized educational and career plans to ensure current and future success.

A Notice of Proposed Rule Making will be published in the State Register on Nov. 30 and public comment will be accepted through Dec. 30. Following the 30-day public comment period required for revised rulemakings, it is anticipated that the proposed rules will be presented for permanent adoption at the February 2017 Board of Regents meeting. If adopted at the February meeting, the rule will become effective on July 1, 2017.

Update - 11/30/16

A Notice of Proposed Rule Making was published in the State Register on November 30, 2016. NYSED will accept comments on the proposed amendments through December 30, 2016. Please email comments to