Illinois Teacher Certification Requirements

Illinois has both public and private schools, but the majority of children attend public school and begin schooling by the age of 5. Schools are usually grouped by grade into elementary schools (Kindergarten through 5th grade), middle schools (6th to 8th grade), and high schools (9th to 12th grade).

In 2010, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) ranked Illinois third nationally for the number of teachers who achieved National Board Certification. This is the fifth year in a row that Illinois has ranked among the top 10 states for the number of new teachers achieving the profession’s highest credential.

The Illinois State Board of Education licenses teachers to work anywhere in the state. Teachers must take continuing education classes yearly to maintain their certification. Renewable certificates must be renewed every few years depending on the certificate type and grade level.

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Types of Illinois Teaching Certificates

Initial and Standard Teaching Certificates are grouped into types. The type of certificate you apply for depends on grade levels or subjects you plan to teach.

The Initial Teaching Certificate is the first teaching certificate that Illinois teachers can earn, and it is nonrenewable.

After 4 years of full-time teaching experience and after meeting continuing education requirements, a teacher may apply for a Standard Certificate. Standard Certificates are valid for 5 years and can be renewed.

The Illinois State Board of Education issues the following Initial or Standard Professional Certificates:

  • Early Childhood (Birth to Grade Three)
  • Elementary (Kindergarten through Grade Nine)
  • Secondary (Grade Six through Grade Twelve)
  • Special (Subject Specific, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve)
  • Special Education Special Certificate (Pre-School to Age Twenty-One)

Illinois also offers two certificates that do not fall into the general certification requirements:

  • Part Time Provisional Teacher Certificate

This 2-year certificate may be a good option for people teaching classes in grades 6 through 12 who only want to work part time. You must show proof of some university education including courses in the subject you want to teach. With this provisional certificate, you can only teach 2 courses at a time.

  • Transitional Bilingual Certificate

A teaching certificate for people who are bilingual and can teach subjects in both English and another language, in K-12 schools. This certificate is valid for 6 years.

General Requirements for Becoming Certified in Illinois

To become certified in Illinois, an individual must:

  • Graduate with a bachelor’s agree
  • Complete a state-approved certificate preparation program or hold a valid and comparable out-of-state certificate.
  • Meet all coursework requirements, and all other requirements detailed in Illinois statute and rules.
  • Pass the following required tests:
  • The Basic Skills Test consists of four independently scored and passed subtests:

Reading Comprehension
Language Arts (grammar and writing)

  • Content-Area Test

You must take one Content-Area Test for each subject you plan to teach, for example, Social Science, Chemistry, or French.

Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT)

The APT tests assess candidates on professional and pedagogical knowledge and skills, covering a variety of teaching knowledge and skills, including classroom management, lesson planning, and student assessment and evaluation.

Once an applicant has successfully completed all program and coursework requirements at an accredited teaching institution, the Illinois State Board of Education will recommend that the applicant be issued a certificate.

When all testing and statutory requirements have been met and all relevant documents and fees submitted, the certificate will be issued.

Alternative Certification Programs in Illinois

For individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and who have related work experience, Illinois offers a choice of three Alternate Certification Programs.

The three alternative certification routes for preparing teachers include:

Alternative Teacher Certification

The Alternative Teacher Certification program must be provided by a partnership that includes a recognized institution that offers a baccalaureate and master’s degree program, and one or more not-for-profit organizations.

one-year nonrenewable provisional alternative teaching certificate will be issued after certain criteria have been met.

Applicants must document that they have:

  • Graduated from an accredited college or university with a bachelor’s degree.
  • Been employed for five years in an academic area based on the participant’s education.
  • Passed the Illinois basic skills and subject matter knowledge tests.
  • Successful completion of an intensive course of study in education theory, instructional methods and practice teaching.
  • Full-time teaching for one school year.
  • A detailed assessment of the applicant’s teaching performance by school officials and partnership members.
  • Recommendation for certification by the partnering higher education institution.

Alternative Route to Teacher Certification

An approved institution must provide any teaching program chosen by an applicant who is pursuing an alternative route to teacher certification.

The alternative program must include the same content and skills provided by the institution’s current, traditional program.

A one-year provisional alternative teaching certificate can be granted when the applicant has met the following criteria:

  • Graduated from an accredited college or university with a bachelor’s degree.
  • Been employed for at least five years in an area congruent with the candidate’s subject matter focus.
  • Passed the Illinois Basic Skills and subject matter knowledge tests.
  • Successfully completed an intensive course of study in education theory, instructional methods and practice teaching.

The candidate must then complete the following:

  • Full-time teaching position for one school year with the advice and assistance of a mentor teacher
  • A comprehensive assessment of the participant’s teaching performance by school officials and program participants.
  • Recommendation for certification by the higher education institution.
  • A nonrenewable Initial Teaching Certificate, valid for four years, will be issued following completion of the requirements.
  • After completing four years of teaching, an individual may apply for the Standard Teaching Certificate.

Resident Teacher Certification Program

A Resident Teacher Certification Program was created to prepare Idaho resident teachers and may be offered only by a partnership of the Idaho school district(s) and an accredited institution with an approved Master’s in Education program.

This program was designed to ensure resident teachers have the opportunity to earn an Initial certificate within three summers and two academic years.

A Resident Teacher Certificate is valid for four years of employment in public schools and will be issued when the candidate the following criteria:

  • Graduate from a regionally accredited college or university with a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 out of a 4.0 GPA.
  • Proof of five years of professional work experience in the area the applicant wishes to teach
  • Complete a one-year teacher preparation internship program developed by a higher education institution and the school district and approved by the State Board.
  • Pass the Illinois basic skills test and the content-area test for your certification area.
  • Enroll in a Master’s of Education degree program that is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education.
  • Complete a six-week summer intensive teacher preparation course, which is the first component of the Master’s degree program.

The resident teacher is then assigned by the school district and must then complete all program requirements, which include:

  • Being mentored by a certified teacher.
  • Complete preparation coursework leading to a Master’s of Education.
  • Pass the Assessment of Professional Teaching.

Individuals completing the requirements will be issued an Initial Teaching Certificate.

The holder of the Resident Teacher Certificate may be issued a Standard Teaching Certificate after:

  • Completing four years of teaching.
  • Passing the Illinois State certification assessments.
  • Earning a master’s degree in education.

Out-of-State Applicants

In order to become certified in Illinois, individuals from out of state must complete a state-approved certificate preparation program or hold a valid and comparable out-of-state certificate. meet all coursework and testing requirements, and they must meet all other requirements detailed in Illinois statute and rules.

Provisional Certificates for Out-of-State Teachers

A provisional certificate may be issued when an applicant who holds a valid, comparable certificate from another state does not meet all Illinois requirements. A provisional certificate is valid for at least two full fiscal years.

A provisional certificate may be used for appropriate employment during the period of its validity. During the validity period, the holder must remove any listed deficiencies. If all deficiencies are removed during the year in which the certificate was issued, the provisional will be exchanged for a regular certificate for no additional fee.

On-the-Job Alternative Certification in Illinois

Illinois allows certain individuals to become teachers by participating in an on-the-job alternative certification program. Qualified candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or the verified overseas equivalent.

Candidates in an alternative certification program can earn teaching license while working as a full-time, paid teacher in an Illinois classroom if they:

  • Complete one semester of coursework prior to entering the classroom.
  • Pass the Illinois Test of Basic Skills.
  • Pass the content knowledge test relevant to their area of certification.
  • Complete a practice teaching assignment.

Candidates who meet these requirements will earn a provisional teaching license and are deemed “highly qualified teachers” under Illinois law. This designation allows schools to hire candidates on a provisional license and pay them as full-time teacher.

Applicants Prepared as Educators Outside of the United States

In order to become certified in Illinois, foreign applicants must have been prepared as an educator outside of the United States, meet all coursework and testing requirements, be legally eligible for employment in the United States, and meet all other requirements detailed in Illinois statute and rules.

Troops to Teachers Program

The Illinois Troops to Teachers program assists eligible military personnel as they transition from active military duty to new careers as public school teachers. The program has offices nationwide that have been established to provide individuals with counseling and assistance regarding certification requirements, possible routes to state certification, as well as employment leads.