How to Become an Elementary School Teacher in Illinois

Illinois is in need of highly qualified elementary school teachers. Read along as we discuss the salaries for these professionals, as well as their educational and assessment requirements.

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According to the Illinois State Board of Education, there were 79 unfilled positions for standard elementary school teachers as of 2017. To fill one of these vacancies, you can first find out more about elementary education programs in Illinois, and discover the exams you'll need to take in order to become licensed.

Requirements for Illinois Elementary School Teachers

Average Salary for Illinois Elementary Teachers (2016)* $60,760 (Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education)
Required Degree Bachelor's
Degree Field Elementary Education
Testing Requirements Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS): Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP); ILTS: Elementary Middle Grades; edTPA Assessment

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step One: Complete an Accredited Teacher Preparation Program

To become licensed to teach grades one through six in Illinois, future elementary educators have to earn an elementary education degree from an accredited college or university. Students will learn about:

  • the physiological foundations of education
  • how to teach elementary students math
  • how to teach social studies to elementary students
  • how to teach reading and language arts to children

During the program, future teachers can fulfill the Illinois Department of Education's requirement that all candidates take courses in teaching English language learners, exceptional children, reading, and content-area reading. Some universities require students to earn a C to a C- or better in these core classes. Students will also have a chance to student-teach in an elementary school setting for a semester.

Step Two: Earn Passing Scores on Certification Tests

One of the first tests future elementary teacher candidates will take in Illinois is the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS): Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP). The basic skills test includes a reading, language arts, mathematics, and writing portion. It takes roughly five hours to complete, and candidates must achieve a score of 240 on each section. The reading section has 60 multiple-choice questions that include skills like: finding the meaning of a word, determining the topic of a paragraph, and identifying the purpose of the writing. The language arts subtest also contains 60 multiple-choice questions and covers the processes of identifying the parts of speech and finding incorrect grammar. The math portion, which is composed of 50 multiple-choice questions, focuses on fractions, decimals, algebra, and geometry. Finally, the essay section gives test-takers a chance to prove their ability to home in on an audience and purpose for their writing.

The next exam candidates will take is the ILTS: Elementary/Middle Grades test, which requires a score of 240. In three hours and 45 minutes, examinees must answer 125 multiple-choice questions. The language arts and literacy portion tests the candidates' understanding of how to assess students' phonic abilities and vocabulary development. The math section looks at how to communicate operations. In the science subarea, candidates will be asked questions regarding scientific phenomena. Candidates will answer questions on governmental structures and historic events during the social sciences section. Finally, the arts, health, and physical education portion will focus on artistic and cultural traditions and the use of art and movement in a classroom.

Additionally, elementary teacher candidates will put together a portfolio during their student-teaching placements. This is the edTPA Assessment and consists of teaching materials they have created, such as lesson plans, assessments, and a video of them teaching an actual class of students.

Links to Related Information for Illinois Elementary Teachers

To better prepare candidates for the two ILTS exams required o Illinois elementary teachers, the links included here are ripe with study materials.

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