If you want a career as a certified teacher in Arkansas, you need to know how to qualify for licensure in that state. Arkansas offers several different paths to certification, and understanding the basic requirements of each path will help you succeed.
Requirements for certified teachers in Arkansas
According to the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), you must have at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify for a teaching license in Arkansas. You must also submit to a background check and pass it successfully.
If you obtain your bachelor’s degree through an undergraduate education program, you will specialize in certain grade levels or subject areas. These specializations will be listed on your teaching license, and they will determine which classes you are certified to teach in Arkansas.
As a first-time teacher entering the workforce after an undergraduate education program, you will receive initial licensure, which is valid for between one and three years. Before you receive your initial teaching license, you must pass two exams: PRAXIS I, which evaluates reading, writing and math skills, and PRAXIS II, a subject test based on your area of specialty.
During your first years of teaching, you will work with a trained mentor to improve your teaching skills. When your mentor decides you are ready, he or she will schedule PRAXIS III, an on-site performance based assessment. After you pass PRAXIS III, you will be awarded a standard teaching license, which must be renewed every five years.
Arkansas jobs for licensed teachers
Earning an education degree isn’t the only path to an Arkansas teaching certification.
The ADE lists several alternate paths to licensure for teachers in Arkansas. The paths and their basic requirements are listed below.
1. Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL): The APPEL allows educators who have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree in any subject area to work as classroom teachers while completing the requirements for initial licensure. To participate in the program, educators must pass both PRAXIS I and PRAXIS II. The program lasts for two years and summer and monthly teacher preparation modules, portfolio development, teaching experience and assessments. Each candidate is assigned a mentor to help oversee skill development. At the end of the program, educators are awarded initial licensure.
2. Non-Traditional MAT, MED, MTLL: Certain approved programs may permit participants to teach in a classroom at the same time that they are working towards their Master’s degree. This option is available through selected Arkansas colleges and universities.
3. Provisional Professional Teaching License: An Arkansas provisional professional teaching license allows individuals who have at least a bachelor’s degree in a certain content area to work as middle or secondary school instructors teaching subject matter related to their area of expertise. In order to qualify for the permit, you must have at least three years of experience working in the content area you intend to teach, and you must have an offer of employment from an Arkansas public school. You also must complete 24 hours of pedagogy training from an ADE-approved source within one year of obtaining this license. After three years of teaching, this license may be converted into a standard educator license upon evaluation and recommendation by the school district.
If you plan to teach a subject designated as a Teacher Shortage Area (TSA) by the U.S. Department of Education, you might be eligible for student loan deferment or cancellation. The following TSAs have been approved for Arkansas for the 2015-2016 school year:
- Family and Customer Service
- Foreign Language
- Gifted and Talented
- Library Media Specialist
- Special Education
A full and current list of TSAs for each state is available via the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.
Teaching license reciprocity in Arkansas
Arkansas participates in a teaching license reciprocity agreement with the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC). When you apply for a teaching certificate in one state using an existing license from another, the “destination state” is actually recognizing your credentials as verification that you are qualified to teach. You must still meet all requirements before you can teach there.
Fortunately, the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement for Educator Licensure streamlines this application process and expedites the goal of teaching in your new state. For more information, see Teaching License Reciprocity Explained.
Disclaimer: Licensing requirements are subject to change. Please visit your state board of education to check for recent revisions to teaching license requirements.