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How to Become a Special Education Teacher in Illinois

There are several steps that must be followed if you want to be become a special education teacher in Illinois. The following article looks at these requirements and offers links to sources and guides.

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In Illinois, becoming a special education teacher means you will work with students of varying disabilities. You'll want to be prepared for work with disabilities such as hearing impairment, blindness, speech development issues, or spectrum disorders. Below, we'll look at the steps you'll need to take to become a licensed special education teacher.

Requirements for Special Education Teachers in Illinois

Average Salary for Special Education Teachers in Illinois* $62,010 (Elementary), $68,040 (Middle School), $67,070 (High School)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Required Field Special Education
Testing Requirements basic skills test, edPTA, specialty area test, special education curriculum test

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete Your Education

Illinois requires teachers to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, and those interested in special eduction can major in special education. Some programs offer training as a kindergarten through age 21 learning behavior specialist, but all programs will require students to complete time in the classroom. During this time, future teachers will be supervised by teachers and administration to hone skills and learn how to work in several school environments. Practicum hours generally vary between colleges, though you should expect several weeks at minimum.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Teaching Gifted and Talented Students
  • Teaching Special Education - Autism
  • Teaching Special Education - Developmentally Delayed
  • Teaching Special Education - Emotional Disturbances
  • Teaching Special Education - Hearing Impairments
  • Teaching Special Education - Learning Disabilities
  • Teaching Special Education - Mental Retardation
  • Teaching Special Education - Multiple Disabilities
  • Teaching Special Education - Orthopedic Impairments
  • Teaching Special Education - Speech Impairments
  • Teaching Special Education - Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Teaching Special Education - Vision Impairments
  • Teaching Special Education, Children and Young Children

Step 2: Complete the Testing Requirements

Special education teachers fit under Illinois' Special Pre K-Age 21 Special Education endorsement and have several tests to complete: a basic skills test, the edPTA test, a specialty area test, and a special education curriculum exam. The basic skills test accepts scores from the ACT, SAT, or TAP (Test of Academic Proficiency given by the Illinois Licensure Testing System). The TAP covers reading comprehension, writing, language arts, and math.

With the edTPA, students will sit for the Special Education test, no matter the specialty selected.

Future teachers will then choose the specialty that they want to test in. The test options are the Teacher of Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired test, the Teacher of Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing test, the Speech Language Pathologist test, and the Learning Behavior Specialist I (LBS I) test. All four of these tests are three hours and 45 minutes long and have 125 multiple-choice questions. The test fee is $99 (LBS I) or $122 (others), and students must earn a 240 or more on the exam to pass.

The Special Education General Curriculum Test costs $99 and future teachers must earn a 240 to pass. However, this one is an hour less at two hours and 45 minutes. There are 65 computer-based multiple-choices questions.

Step 3: Apply for Licensure

To obtaining licensure you'll set up an account with the Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS) and apply for a Professsional Educator License (PEL). After paying a fee, you'll send your official transcript from your college education. After that, you'll submit a form to your college to be filled out and submitted showing that you followed a curriculum approved by the the state and all tests.

Certification Sources for Special Education Teacher

Those who want to work with special needs students will take several exams to prove efficiency. One of the exams students will take is the Illinois Licensing Teaching Standards (ILTS). Below, you'll find three links to help you study for your ILTS exam.

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