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​CSPG 76 - Elementary and Secondary School Counselor (PK-12)

Educational Specialist Area Code 1839
Modified: April 2024

Elementary and secondary school counseling is the science or art of the knowledge and competency in working with elementary and secondary level school children to provide a variety of school counseling services.

Grade Level Scope of Certificate

A person holding a valid Pennsylvania certificate for Elementary and Secondary School Counselor is qualified to counsel all children and youth in grades PK-12.

Certification Assignment

An educator holding a valid Pennsylvania certificate for Elementary and Secondary School Counselor is responsible for the development of a comprehensive school counseling program that promotes equity, access, and belonging for all students. The certified School Counselor collaborates with others to meet student needs in academic, career-planning, and social-emotional development.


  • Interprets cognitive, aptitude and achievement tests
  • Participates in special education individualized education programs (IEP’s)
  • Assists in the educational placement (transition) of departing students


  • Works with career program planning, organization, implementation, administration, and evaluation
  • Coordinates student work-based learning programs in which students meet specific academic and work experience requirements

Social-Emotional Development

  • Conducts classroom guidance activities
  • Provides individual and group counseling related to academic, career-planning, and social-emotional development, including peer mediation and bullying
  • Provides intervention and prevention

Certificate Clarification

The following certificates also qualify an individual to serve as a school counselor within the grade scope of the certificate:

  • Guidance Counselor (discontinued 1987)
  • Elementary School Counselor K-6 (discontinued 2013)
  • Secondary School Counselor 7-12 (discontinued 2013)

Special Considerations​

  • The certified educator may teach courses/provide services to students, including special education or gifted students, within the scope of the certificate.
  • An educator certified in this field may provide staff development services regarding their collegial studies/skills.
  • A school counselor who holds an Elementary School Counselor K-6 certificate or a Secondary School Counselor 7-12 certificate may provide services to students in grades five (5) through eight (8).
  • A school counselor employed by a LEA who holds an Elementary School Counselor K-6 certificate may provide services to PK students in their LEA.


Program Specific Guidelines for Certification

Pennsylvania Public School Code (24 P.S): §1202, §1212

Pennsylvania Code (22 Pa. Code): §49.11, §49.102, §49.103

This revision supersedes all earlier CSPGs carrying this number and/or addressing this subject. Previous printing dates on this subject: 1973, 3/75, 3/78, 2/82, 1/87, 7/04, 6/10, 9/13, 2/17

Summary of Changes

​Date of Revisions
​Major Changes to CSPG #76 and #79
  • Added language allowing K-6 counselors to serve PK students in their district​

  • ​Reviewed and updated formatting
  • Added language for clarification.
  • Revised terms to align with current usage (work-release changed to work-based learning, person-social changed to social-emotional)
  • ​Update grade scope for consistency and clarification
  • Reorganized the CSPG for clarification
  • Added information on work-release programs
  • Removed reference to old certificate titles:
    • To Teach Guidance
    • To Serve as a Guidance Counselor

​The Elementary and Secondary School Counselor certificates are combined to provide a single PreK-12 school counselor certificate and the certificate assignment is broadened to reflect current practice in school counseling.


​An Elementary and Secondary School Counselor may serve in a grades five through eight middle level building.


​An Elementary School Counselor may serve in the seventh and eighth grade of a middle level building. A Secondary School Counselor may serve in the sixth grade of a middle level building.

​1/1987 CSPG #66

​Certificates were titled Elementary or Secondary School Guidance and may be used for service in the grades of an approved middle school.

​3/1975 CSPG #66
  • A guidance certificate not specifically endorsed as to grade level or endorsed “guidance counselor” shall qualify the holder to perform at any grade level.
  • Persons holding a certificate endorsed “to teach guidance” are properly assigned only to teach courses in occupational information, educational opportunities, job application and job interview procedures, and other informational-type courses supplementing the total guidance and counseling objectives.
  • A person holding a valid certificate endorsed for school guidance counseling may:
  • Counsel students in the areas of personal, social, vocational, and educational development;
  • Assist teachers in developing sensitivity to peculiar needs of individual students and in utilizing referral procedures;
  • Make use of test data and psychological assessment findings;
  • Advise relative to the selections and use of appropriate group and individual tests, measures, and inventories dealing with scholastic progress, academic achievement, interests and aspirational level, social adjustment, physical growth and development, special aptitudes, and intelligent quotients or intelligence factors.
  • Provisional teaching certificate or master’s degree in approved social work program and:
  • Six additional credits in principals of elementary or secondary education and elementary or secondary school curriculum;
  • Two years successful teaching, social work or professional counseling;
  • Completion of 18 credits graduate in specified counseling areas.
  • Permanent College Certificate
    • Provisional counselor’s certificate;
    • Three successful years of counseling (public school);
  • Master’s degree in school counseling required for provisional certificates issued after 10/1/1959.