School Social Work
For over a hundred years, school social workers have been providing a critical link between school, home, and community. The school social work profession has consistently focused on coordinating the efforts of schools, families, and communities toward helping students improve their academic achievement and social, emotional, and behavioral competence by using its unique perspective of viewing the person in their environment. School social workers seek to ensure equitable education opportunities; ensure that students are mentally, physically, and emotionally present in the classroom; and promote respect and dignity for all students. School social work is a complex and specialized field of practice that is affected by changes in education policy, research, and practice models that continue to evolve.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is the governmental entity which approves individuals for an Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL). All Illinois school social workers at a public or approved non-public program must obtain the PEL endorsed in School Support Personnel in order to work as a school social worker in Illinois.
NOTE: The below information on obtaining Professional Educator License (PEL) endorsed in School Support Personnel is provided as a service to Illinois school social workers. We have provided as much information as possible relating to PEL licensure. However, please note that this information may change before the chapter can update this webpage; therefore, you should verify all information with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
ISBE offers three pathways to earning Professional Educator License (PEL) Endorsed in School Support Personnel:
RECIPROCITY: Did you complete an approved out-of-state educator preparation program and become licensed in that state? You can qualify for the Illinois PEL by submitting the following documents:
A copy of your valid, comparable out-of-state license.
A master’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution of higher education.
ISBE 80-02S: Did you complete an approved out-of-state educator preparation program but did not become licensed in that state? You must meet the following requirements to obtain the IL PEL:
A master's degree or higher from a graduate school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education
Proof of completion of a State Approved Program (Use ISBE form 80-02S: State Approved Program and Completion of Standards Verification - School Support Personnel Only)
Internship or equivalent experience
Internship experience of at least 600 contact hours in a school setting
Completion of coursework* addressing methods of teaching exceptional children, reading methods, content area reading, and methods of teaching English learners (Use ISBE form 80-02S: State Approved Program and Completion of Standards Verification - School Support Personnel Only)
Licensure Tests: All test scores are valid indefinitely. If out-of-state test scores were completed, copies of the test scores must be submitted per the ISBE 80-02S form.
Updated! School Social Worker (283, formerly 184)*
*In an attempt to reduce barriers to access, ISBE reworked the School Social Work test in August 2022. According to ISBE, the only changes made to the test were a reduction in questions and the time it takes to complete the test.
ILLINOIS EDUCATOR PREPARATION PROGRAM: If you are completing an educator preparation program at an Illinois institution, please work closely with the institution to ensure their specific requirements are met.
For more information about ISBE requirements, please visit the ISBE webpage for School Support Personnel Endorsements.
The School Social Worker Test (238, formerly 184) is a computer-based test comprised of 100 multiple-choice questions. It has a total appointed time of 3 hours and 30 minutes, 15 minutes of which is used for a CBT tutorial and nondisclosure agreement and the remaining 3 hours and 15 minutes for testing.
Is test 238 different from 184?
In an attempt to reduce barriers to access, on August 2022, ISBE reworked the School Social Work test. Please note (according to ISBE) the only changes made to the test were a reduction in questions and time it takes to complete the test.
How much does the test cost?
The cost to take the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS) School Social Worker (238) test is $122. Test registration fees must be paid with a credit card (VISA or MasterCard only) or a debit or check card with the VISA or MasterCard logo. If you do not have a VISA or MasterCard, contact Evaluation Systems for information about how to submit payment by check.
Your registration is valid for one year from the date of issue. If you do not schedule a test appointment and take your test within one year, or withdraw your registration within one year, your registration will expire and you will receive no refund or credit of any kind.
What score do I need to pass?
You will need a passing score of 240.
When and where is the test administered?
Test dates are administered by appointment year-round, Monday through Saturday (excluding some holidays). See available appointment times here. NOTE: Before scheduling your appointment, you must first register to test at the program website.
Test sites are located in Illinois as well as nationwide. Locate a test center here.
Where can I register for the test?
You will need to register for the School Social Worker (238) test through the ILTS website.
Are there any materials to help me prepare for this test?
ILTS has a host of materials available on their site to help you prepare for the test.
Computer-Based Testing Tutorials – Find out what to expect when you take a computer-based test.
When does my PEL (with endorsement) expire?
All licensees holding a PEL endorsed in school support personnel must renew their PEL license every five years. All endorsements are renewed with the license. All renewals must be submitted between April 1st and August 31st during the fifth year after your original renewal date.
How much does it cost to renew my PEL?
The cost for renewing a PEL endorsed in school support personnel is $50.00 per 5-year cycle ($10/year).
What are the requirements for renewing my PEL?
Beginning with the 2015–2020 renewal cycle, and every cycle thereafter, teachers and school support services personnel must complete 120 hours* of professional development to renew. However, if you are a licensee who holds a PEL endorsed in school support personnel and is employed in an Illinois public, charter, or state operated school for 50% or more FTE, you can fulfill the professional development requirement in an alternate method (see below question).
*According to a document released by ISBE, the governor has signed a law that reduces the professional development hours required for renewal by 20% for the 2021–2022 school year (fiscal year 2022). To find out whether this applies to you, contact ISBE.
How can I fulfill the professional development requirement?
You must obtain your professional development hours (PDHs) from an approved provider such as the NASW-Illinois Chapter.
If you are a licensee who holds a PEL endorsed in school support personnel AND is employed in an Illinois public, charter, or state operated school for 50% or more FTE, you can meet Professional Development (PD) requirements by either:
Holding an active and current professional license issued by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (such as the LSW or LCSW; must be related to endorsement), OR
Holding national certification as a school social worker with a license issued under the Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act.
If the above requirements have been met, the licensee will need to enter the license or national information into ELIS in the amount of 120 PD hours. See steps listed in the below question for how to submit this information.
Where do I renew my PEL?
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is the licensing board for all professional educators in Illinois. You will need to submit your renewal through the Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS) hosted through ISBE.
If you are using a professional license or national certification to fulfill your professional development requirement, follow the steps below to add your National Certification as an activity in your ELIS account:
Login to ELIS: https://apps.isbe.net/IWASNET/login.aspx.
On the menu panel, select Professional Development.
Click “click here to add professional development hours”
Enter your license/certification information.
Enter 120 professional development hours.
Part 25 Administrator Rule, Section 25.805
National Licenses for Renewal must be uploaded as an image in ELIS.
More questions about renewal?
Please check out the FAQ that ISBE released on 2022 License Renewal.
NASW periodically revises the NASW Standards for School Social Work Services to meet the changing needs of school social workers, the clients they serve, and local education agencies.