How to Become a Teacher in Illinois

Find out how to pursue teacher certification in Illinois. Discover tips about educational requirements, ILTS testing, certification, and how to prepare for the different parts of the process.

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The state of Illinois offers teacher certification for grades K-12 with a variety of specializations and endorsements, so it is an excellent place to begin a career in education. Here, we explore the steps needed to become a certified teacher in the state of Illinois.

Illinois Teacher Salary Information and Educational Requirements

Average Salary for Teachers in Illinois (2016)* $60,760 (Elementary); $69,700 (Middle School), $70,130 (High School)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Education
Testing Requirements Test of basic skills such as TAP; edTPA; ILTS subject tests

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree in education is required in order to become a licensed teacher in Illinois. The content of the programs of study will vary, but many will include some of the same basic classes like curriculum development, pedagogy, mathematics, and communications. Secondary programs will encourage students to choose a specific track (like mathematics or English), while elementary programs will educate students in a variety of subjects. All future teachers should be sure to take classes that fall into these categories: cross-categorical special education methods, reading methods, reading in the content area, and English as a second language/bilingual methods. Students will be required to complete internships in order to gain experience in the field before graduation.

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Step 2: Complete All Required Testing

The Illinois Department of Education mandates that all prospective teachers pass a test of basic skills prior to enrolling in a teacher preparation program. This can be achieved with the ACT (composite score of 22 with a writing score of 6) or the SAT (with a composite score of 1110 and a 26 on writing and language). Additionally, students can take the Test of Academic Proficiency (the TAP). The TAP covers reading comprehension, language arts, mathematics (this test includes a formula sheet), and writing. All of the tests consist of 50-60 multiple choice questions except for the writing subtest which requires a single constructed response. Test-takers have 5 hours to complete the whole test and must achieve a score of 240 or higher per subtest.

The edTPA should also be completed during the student teaching portion of the teacher preparation program. This exam focuses on three areas: planning, instruction, and assessment. The edTPA is designed to make sure all future teachers are prepared to handle common teaching situations.

If a student is hoping to teach a specific subject, he or she should also take the appropriate subject test offered through the Illinois Licensure Testing System. For instance, future elementary teachers should make sure to take the Elementary Middle Grades ILTS test and attain a score of at least 240. Secondary school teachers will need to take subject-specific tests. The ILTS offers dozens of subject tests, so it is important for every prospective teacher to check in with advisors about which subject tests are applicable.

Step 3: Getting Licensed to Teach

The final step is to complete all required paperwork and submit important documents to the Department of Education. In order to get licensed, all prospective teachers need to provide documentation of their degrees and records of their teacher preparation programs. Records of their student teaching experiences and all specific coursework required by the Department of Education must also be submitted. Students can use form 80-02: State Approved Program and Completion of Standards Verification to provide documentation of all requirements; this form can be found on the Illinois Department of Education website. Additionally, students must provide test scores from all applicable exams, including subject tests. Once all documentation is provided, students will be certified to teach in Illinois.

Resources for Future Illinois Teachers

Any lingering questions about testing requirements in Illinois? Read detailed guides and prepare for future exams by looking into the following courses.

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