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Music Education Certification in Illinois

Learn all about the path to becoming an Illinois music teacher certified to teach kindergarten through grade 12, including the required teacher preparation program and three exams.

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Music educators are versatile in regard to their area of musical focus and the grade levels they are able to teach. Readers will learn about the music teacher programs offered by universities, as well as the exams required by the state of Illinois.

Requirements for Illinois Music Teacher Certification

Average Salary for Illinois Teachers (2016)* $58,180 (kindergarten, except special education); $60,760 (elementary, except special education); $69,700 (middle school, except special and career/technical education); $70,130 (secondary school, except special and career/technical education)
Required Degree Bachelor's
Degree Field Music Education
Testing Requirements ILTS Tap; ILTS Music; edTPA

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete a Required Music Education Program

To teach music in Illinois kindergarten through grade 12 classrooms, candidates must complete a music education program. Some programs require students to perform music during an audition in order to gain admission. Once enrolled in the program, students learn about the history of various musical movements, music from different cultures, child and adolescent psychology, American education, and the methods of teaching music. The state of Illinois also requires teachers to take courses in teaching exceptional children, teaching English language learners, reading methods, and content area reading.

Students may have the opportunity to concentrate in a particular area, such as general music or instrumental music. No matter the focus, however, all students are required to complete a semester-long student teaching experience, which places them in an actual classroom with real students. Here, they create lesson plans and manage the classroom behavior under the watchful eye of a mentoring teacher.

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Step 2: Pass the Required Tests

Basic Skills Exam

The first test many Illinois teachers will take is the Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS) Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP). Composed of a reading, language arts, math, and writing section, this exam can take five hours to complete. Examinees must earn at least a 240 on each subtest.

The reading comprehension section tests a candidate's ability to use context clues to define unfamiliar words, find main points, and identify the goal of the piece of writing, among other skills. The language arts section focuses on grammar, as well as standard spelling and capitalization. The writing portion covers topics like writing for an audience, writing persuasively, organizing ideas, revising a piece of writing, and using main ideas and supportive details. Finally, the math subtest ensures future teachers understand integers, decimals, pattern analysis, algebra, geometry, and statistics.

It's worth keeping in mind that teacher candidates may not have to take the TAP if they met minimum scores on the SAT or ACT. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, candidates can be exempt from the TAP if they received a 1110 composite score (including a 26 writing/language score) on the SAT or a 22 composite score and 6 writing score on the ACT.

The Music Content Area Exam

Music teachers in Illinois are required to pass the ILTS Music exam with a score of no less than 240. It can take examinees almost four hours to answer the 125 multiple-choice questions. Throughout the exam, candidates are tested on their understanding of topics such as elements of melody and harmony, elements of rhythm and expressive qualities, the historical and cultural features of music, and performance errors.

They are also tested on musical notation, forms and styles of music, creating music, performing vocal and instrumental music, and evaluating musical performances. Finally, methods of teaching music to elementary, middle, and secondary students, as well as students with special needs, are covered.

The Performance Assessment

Finally, during their student teaching placement, future educators are expected to complete the edTPA performance assessment. The required score is 37, and students are given a chance to show their teaching skills. They will capture a video of themselves teaching a real lesson to a classroom, and this will be assessed by a group of experienced educators. Students also complete a portfolio of lesson plans, assessments, and other materials they created during their student teaching experience.

Step 3: Get Certified

Apply for a Professional Educator License (PEL) through your online account. Have your official transcripts sent that show completion of a bachelor's degree from an accredited school's program. Submit required forms to your college and a copy of your license to the Illinois State Board of Education.

Links for Illinois Music Educator Candidates

Because taking long standardized tests can be scary, we've included links to some materials that can help you rock the exams required by Illinois.

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