5 Things to Know About the New Counselor PD Law

Chelsey Martinez's picture

Written by Patrick O’Connor, Government Relations Co-Chair of the Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling (MACAC)

Governor Snyder recently signed House Bill 4181 into law. This bill makes important changes to the professional development requirements of school counselors, which will take effect in two years.

What does the bill require?

In two years, school counselors seeking to renew their license or certificate will still need to complete 150 hours of professional development—that hasn’t changed. What HB 4181 has added is the requirement that 25 of those 150 professional development hours must be completed in activities focused on college counseling, and another 25 must be completed in activities focused on career counseling. Of the 25 career counseling hours, 5 of those must be focused on career options in the military.

When does this take effect?

HB 4181 takes effect in two years, giving counselors who are in the midst of meeting the current requirements ample time to apply for renewal before the new guidelines take effect.

What comes next?

HB 4181 requires the Michigan Department of Education to develop rules and guidelines to enforce these new requirements. Those rules and guidelines must be developed by July 1, 2018.

Will schools or districts be required to offer counselor-specific professional development?

The answer here is “No, but…” HB 4181 does not require schools or districts to arrange for counselor-specific development. At the same time, HB 4181 was created in part because counselors are looking for professional development opportunities that are relevant to their field. Once MDE develops guidelines for these opportunities, administrators are strongly encouraged to allow counselors to use the time dedicated to teacher professional development to participate in counselor-specific professional development that may be offsite (such as visiting college campuses or job work sites, if those are MDE approved) or online. Administrators will play a pivotal role in supporting the successful implementation of HB 4181.

Is there something administrators should be doing now to support HB 4181?

Administrators may want to take the opportunity to share this article with counselors, so they understand the timeline for the implementation of HB 4181. This would be an ideal time to discuss the professional development needs counselors have in all facets of the counseling curriculum, to see how those could be met through the best use of in-service days.