How to Become a Preschool or Kindergarten Teacher in Illinois

Realize your potential of becoming an early education teacher in the state of Illinois by reading through all educational requirements, testing options, and an overview of the certification process.

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Illinois certifies teachers in Pre-K-3 education, granting much flexibility for teachers interested in instructing young children. Early education teachers in Illinois will attain a general knowledge of many subjects including reading, writing, nutrition, and child development in order to best instruct their students.

Illinois Teacher Salary Information and Requirements

Average Salary for Teachers in Illinois (2016)* $32,950 (Preschool), $63,040 (Preschool - Special Education), $58,180 (Kindergarten), $62,010 (Kindergarten - Special Education)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Early Childhood Education
Testing Requirements test of basic skills, edTPA, ILTS Early Education or Special Education exams

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Graduate with a Bachelor's Degree

The first step toward preschool or kindergarten teacher certification in Illinois is to graduate from an approved, accredited teacher preparation program with a degree in early education. The Illinois Department of Education keeps an updated list of all of these educational programs on the website, so be sure to look through and find the best fit. Every program will be slightly different, depending on what classes are required by each school. Most programs will include courses like:

  • Foundations in reading instruction
  • History and philosophy of early childhood education
  • Infant/toddler development

The state of Illinois does require all teachers to complete courses that fall into the following categories: cross categorical education methods, reading methods, reading in the content areas, English as a second language/bilingual methods. Additionally, all students in these teacher preparation programs will complete student teaching at the appropriate grade level.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Teacher Education, Multiple Levels
  • Teaching, Adults
  • Teaching, Elementary
  • Teaching, High School
  • Teaching, Junior High
  • Teaching, Kindergarten and Preschool
  • Teaching, Waldorf and Steiner Education
  • Teaching, Young Children

Step 2: Take All Required Tests

The first required exam in the state of Illinois is the TAP, or the Test of Academic Proficiency. This test is made up of a reading comprehension section (60 multiple-choice questions), a language arts section (60 multiple-choice questions), a mathematics section (50 multiple-choice questions), and a writing section (1 constructed-response). This test takes five hours, costs $113, and each section requires at least a score of 240. The TAP requirement can also be fulfilled by an SAT score of 1100 with a minimum of a 26 on writing and language, and an ACT score of 22 with a writing score of 6 can also be used.

Future teachers must also complete the edTPA, which evaluates them on classroom strategies like planning, instruction, and assessment. The assessment requires future teachers to submit a portfolio of their work during their student teaching experience, and the fee is $300.

The Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS) Early Education exam is the last main exam for those interested in teaching preschool or kindergarten. This $122 test is computer-based and taken over the course of 3 hours and 15 minutes. The exam covers child development, language and literacy development, learning across the curriculum, and professional relationships and responsibilities. Test-takers need to score at least a 240 over the course of 100 multiple-choice questions.

For those looking to specialize in special education at the preschool or kindergarten level, they will take an additional test or two, like the Special Education: Preschool/Early Childhood exam, which is made up of 130 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately two hours to complete.

Step 3: Complete the Certification Application

After future teachers have graduated and passed all required tests, they are eligible to apply for their Professional Educator License. They can register online and submit test scores, an application, and fees through the online portal. Then Illinois asks that the student's university send in transcripts in a sealed envelope to the State Board of Education. The university also needs to fill out form 80-02 (found on the DOE's website) indicating which of the courses fulfilled the four category requirements (cross categorical education methods, reading methods, reading in the content areas, English as a second language/bilingual methods). If electing to use SAT/ACT scores, an official score will need to be sent directly to the the State Board of Education as well. Finally, future teachers will submit a criminal background check, and when all the paperwork is processed, they should be ready to receive their Professional Educator Licenses.

Study Resources for Future Illinois Teachers

There are many resources available to those interested in becoming early education teachers in Illinois. The study guides and practice questions below will help interested teachers prepare for the testing requirements in the state.

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