In order to become a certified teacher, you do need to hold a Bachelor's degree and a teacher training preparation course, of which student teaching must be a component. These are the basic requirements for obtaining any of the teaching jobs in Arkansas. Just as in other parts of the country, there is an excess of teachers for some areas of the curriculum and a severe shortage in others. It is also likely that all states are experiencing problems hiring teachers in the same content areas or for the same grade levels. When you set out to become a teacher look for information about the areas in which there is a shortage of teachers.
In Arkansas, at present there is a shortage of highly qualified teachers for the following teaching jobs:
- Foreign language teachers for German, Spanish and French
- Special education teachers for gifted and talented students
- School guidance counselors
- Math and Science teachers for Grades 4 – 8
- Life and Physical Science teachers for Grades 7 – 12
- Special education teachers for the hearing and visually impaired
- Specialists in the field of Special Education
To receive an initial teaching license in Arkansas, all teachers must pass the Praxis exams to be eligible for teaching certification and to apply for vacant teaching jobs. There is, however, a certain procedure in which you must take these exams. Before entering a teacher preparation program, you must pass the Praxis 1 exams in reading, writing and mathematics exams to show that you do have the basic competency levels required by teachers. Near the end of your training program, you must take the Praxis 11 exams for specific grade levels and content areas. Once you graduate from the training program and receive your initial certificate then you can apply for any teaching jobs for which you meet the criteria outlined in the advertisement.
Once you obtain one of the teaching jobs in Arkansas, you can then work towards attaining the advanced teaching certificate. This means that you will have to take the Praxis 111 exams. This test is essential if you want to convert your initial teaching certificate to a standard certificate. You are required to take this test in the second semester of your first year of teaching if you have an initial three-year teaching certificate. If you have a non-traditional teaching certificate you will have to take the Praxis 111 during the second semester of your second year of teaching. The Praxis 111 consists of classroom assessors visiting your classroom to observe your teaching practices for the purpose of evaluating your performance. In addition, you are required to provide written descriptions of the class and the subject matter you teach. This is not really an exam, but an evaluation of how well you are doing as a beginning teacher.