The Arkansas Teaching and Certification Resource

Although teaching can be an incredibly fulfilling career in any state, Arkansas takes their education system especially seriously. In fact, Arkansas is one of the few states that has implemented a strict performance-based certification system for state educators. As part of the state-wide educational system, high quality instruction and leadership skills are implemented through the Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS), which facilitates strong levels of teacher support throughout the educational system.

This is especially useful for anyone looking to become a certified teacher in Arkansas. Along with the proper Arkansas teaching certification, required by the State Educator Licensure Unit within the Department of Education, teachers in Arkansas receive multiple levels of teacher training throughout their career.

How to Become a Teacher in Arkansas

In order to pursue a teaching certification in Arkansas, the state requires teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, all applicants must complete a background check and pass the basic level exams: Praxis I, Praxis II, and Praxis III.

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Teaching applicants who complete all of the requirements through an approved Arkansas teachers certification program or the Arkansas Non-Traditional Licensure Program are eligible for an initial teaching license. The initial teaching license is valid for three years and is considered a period of induction for new teachers. During the induction period, new teachers are assigned an experienced teacher as a mentor for their teaching practice and professional growth. When the pair decides that the new teacher meets the mentoring requirements, the Praxis III (the capstone experience of the induction period) is scheduled.

After the teacher completes the performance assessment successfully, he/she will receive a standard Arkansas teacher certification. The standard teaching license in Arkansas is valid for five years. Arkansas teacher certification renewal after that is dependant on the teacher’s completion of 60 professional development hours each year.

Additionally, Arkansas does offer a Provisional Professional Teaching License that, under unique circumstances, can permit a person to work on a full or part time basis as teacher-of-record in an Arkansas public school. This process is fairly complicated and has a number of specific requirements so it’s advisable to check with the Department of Education for more information.

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Quick Guide

Finding Approved Teacher Education Programs in Arkansas

For anyone looking to pursue a teaching certification in Arkansas, it’s imperative to complete the required number of hours at an accredited institution recognized by one of the six regional accreditations agencies. These organizations are overseen by the US Department of Education and cover state educational accreditation on a regional scale.

The accreditation body for Arkansas is North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). This agency is responsible for the accreditation of various learning institutions in the region, including all K-12 programs, distance education programs, supplementary education, etc. Accordingly, when evaluating an Arkansas teachers certification program, it’s advisable to confirm that the program is in good standing with the NCA.

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Additionally, when looking for accredited Arkansas teacher certification programs, its equally important that the program is approved by the Arkansas Office of Educator Effectiveness ran by the state’s Department of Education. This department is responsible for approving every program of study state-wide that leads to Arkansas teachers licensing for K-12 teachers, administrators and other school employees. This system also applies to all online teaching certification programs. When looking for online teaching certification in Arkansas, applicants should confirm that the online school is accredited by a recognized accreditation body.

Arkansas also requires teacher certification programs to be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). CAEP is an organization that consolidated two previously individual accreditation bodies, NCATE and TEAC. Currently, CAEP serves as a distinguished standard of teaching excellence in the educational field and is recognized by the US Department of Education as well Arkansas state level.

See our list of CAEP accredited schools in Arkansas.

Arkansas Teacher Outlook as of 2012
The Occupational Supply & Demand System has projected 2,329 annual job openings related to teaching and education through 2018. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 37,162 public school and 3,150 private school teachers employed in Arkansas in 2008 and 2007 respectively. The average starting salary for teachers in Arkansas is $30,525 and the overall average salary ranks 43rd in the nation at $46,500 (NEA 2012). According to the Arkansas Education Association, the largest active union for education professionals in the state, 312 new teachers obtained their national board certifications in 2011, ranking Arkansas 6th in new National Board Certified Teachers for the year.

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Arkansas Teacher Education Requirements

Arkansas requires all teachers in the state to hold a bachelor’s degree at minimum, and preferably in the subject of education. Additionally, the traditional route for acquiring a Arkansas educator certification is through a state-approved teacher education program from a regionally accredited college or university. These programs typically include a major in elementary education, special education, and secondary education with a particular content focus.

If applicants hold a degree in another subject, they are also eligible to pursue the teacher certification process through enrollment in the program formally-known as the Arkansas Non-Traditional Licensure Program, and which was recently renamed as the Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL). This is an alternative route for applicants with a non-education related degree to actively work as a classroom teacher while completing the pathway requirements needed to obtain a Standard Arkansas Teaching License.

The program is a two-year preparation track which includes:

  • Assessments
  • Teaching
  • Teacher work sample development
  • Summer and monthly Saturday teacher preparation modules

For experienced teachers who have an out-of-state certification, Arkansas educator certificate reciprocity is an option. Applicants will need to submit their offical school transcripts, background checks and test scores in addition to an evaluation of the applicant’s up-to-date certification by one of the approved private evaluation agencies. For more information contact the Arkansas Department of Education.

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Arkansas Teacher Testing Requirements

Arkansas State SealAs in many other states, the Praxis Exam Series is required for teacher certification in Arkansas. The Praxis I assessment is a basic skills test in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. These are most often taken at the beginning of a teacher preparation program. The Praxis II assessment is a more advanced test of professional knowledge and subject area content knowledge. These are usually taken toward the end of a teacher preparation program. The Praxis III assessments are performance assessments, which, in Arkansas, are administered by the Office of Teacher Quality. This includes interviews before and after a classroom observation, written descriptions of the teacher’s class and subject matter, and observation of instructional practices by a state-certified performance assessor.

Educational Testing Service (ETS) develops and produces the Praxis Series Assessments which are required for Arkansas licensure. When registering for Praxis I and Praxis II assessments in completion of Arkansas licensure requirements, applicants should request that test results be sent to the Arkansas Department of Education.

Additional Arkansas Teacher Certification Requirements

For first-time teachers and all renewals, the Department of Education requires an Arkansas State Police, FBI and Child Maltreatment Central Registry Background Check. The fingerprinting services can be done at any law enforcement office and once completed, should be sent to the Arkansas State Police at the address listed on the back of the application.

Arkansas Teachers Licensing Application Process

To obtain an official Arkansas teacher certification, you must complete the require steps as stipulated by the Department of Education:

  1. Applicants must complete an approved certification program at an accredited institution officially recognized by the state’s Department of Education.
  2. Take and pass the grade-level-appropriate tests required by the state’s Department of Education.
  3. Submission of an official transcript indicating completed hours of a bachelor’s degree program.
  4. Submission of all required paperwork along with payment of non-refundable fees required by the Department of Educator Licensure.

Office of Educator Licensure
Arkansas Department of Education
Four Capitol Mall, Rooms 106-B and 107-B
Little Rock, AR 72201-1071

Visit the Arkansas State Department of Education for full details on how to become a teacher in Arkansas.

Teacher Quote: “Don’t be satisfied with ‘getting by’ behaviors in your students or yourself. Always strive for transparency, fairness, honesty, consistency, and excellence. Expect excellence and it happens.” -Sue Mistric, President of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French

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Arkansas Teacher Salary and Jobs

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Preschool Teachers 2,730 $30,140
Kindergarten Teachers 2,250 $44,520
Elementary School Teachers 12,330 $44,810
Middle School Teachers 6,860 $47,200
Secondary School Teachers 9,820 $47,270

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Teacher in Arkansas

Question: How do I become an elementary teacher in Arkansas?

Answer: You must be certified through the state to become an elementary teacher in Arkansas. The state requires that you earn a bachelor’s degree and complete a teacher preparation program in elementary education. Arkansas also requires that you pass a certification exam and a criminal background check.

Teaching and Education Programs

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1. Arkansas State Department of Education: http://www.arkansased.org/
2. Council for the Accreditation on Educator Preparedness: http://caepnet.org/
3. US Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ak.htm#25-0000

Page edited by Charles Sipe.