How to Become a Teacher in Arkansas

How to Become a Teacher in Arkansas

If you're here, you're probably wondering how to become a teacher in Arkansas, so we'll get right to it. The most straightforward way is the traditional route, which has a four essential steps:

Step 1. Get a bachelor's degree from an accredited university.

Step 2. Finish an educator preparation program. If you pursue a bachelor's degree in education, the educator preparation program is typically included. In Arkansas, prospective teachers must take the Praxis I Pre Professional Skills Test PPST to get into a teacher prep program.

Step 3. Pass the Arkansas teacher certification tests. In addition to the PPST, you'll need to take the Praxis II: Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) exam and the Praxis II test in the subject area you'd like to teach.

Step 4. Apply for an Arkansas teaching license. Once you've met all of the requirements, you can submit an application for Arkansas teacher certification, which involves a background check and fingerprinting.

We will cover the nuances of these steps in greater detail below and help you understand other ways to become a teacher in the Natural State, including alternative teaching certification in Arkansas.

Arkansas Teacher Certification Programs

Aspiring teachers in Arkansas must complete a teacher certification program to apply for a teaching license. These prep programs are usually incorporated into bachelor's degree programs in education. They must be approved by the Arkansas Department of Education's (ADE) Division of Elementary and Secondary Education; there are more than 20 universities that bear this distinction. A few notable examples include:

  • Arkansas State University, which boasts education bachelor's degree programs in elementary education, english / language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.
  • Arkansas Tech University, where you'll find undergraduate education programs in physics, chemistry and computer science, among many others.
  • University of Arkansas - Fayetteville, which offers both bachelor's and master's degrees in elementary education and several specialized areas such as drama/speech, music and French.
  • Harding University, with offerings like early childhood/special education, music - instrumental, art and Spanish.

You'll also find programs at places like John Brown University, Southern Arkansas University, John Brown University and University of the Ozarks.

Arkansas recognizes two accrediting bodies in making its decision to approve an educator preparation program -- the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Choosing a program that's accredited by one of these organizations is critical. Not only does it mean your path to Arkansas teacher certification will be much smoother, but it also indicates the program has undergone a rigorous vetting process. That scrutiny usually translates to a solid education that prepares you well for the teaching profession.

Arkansas Teacher Education Requirements

Whether you're taking the traditional or alternative route to teaching certification in Arkansas, you'll need to complete a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. If you know what subjects and grade level you'd like to teach, you might opt for a specialized degree program. For instance, if you want to teach high school math, a program like the Bachelor of Science in Mathematics for Teacher Licensure offered at Arkansas Tech University would be the perfect fit.

All of these undergraduate education degrees that include a teacher prep program will require a practicum. In this practicum, you'll get real-world experience in a classroom setting working as an assistant to a teacher. In this role, you'll be asked to help make lesson plans, observe other teachers and even give in-class instruction.

Required Tests for Arkansas Teachers

Arkansas teacher certification requirements include several exams, all of which are administered by the Educational Testing Service.

Core Academic Skills for Educators

The Core Academic Skills for Educators, or the Praxis Core, is a series of three basic skills exams that assess an aspiring teacher's aptitude in reading, writing and mathematics. They can be taken together (test code 5752) or separately. The Praxis Core test passing scores for each is determined by the educator preparation provider.

Core Academic Skills for Educators Test Code
Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading 5713
Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing 5723
Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics 5733

Pedagogy Assessments (Principles of Learning and Teaching) in Arkansas

Arkansas also requires pedagogy assessments called the PLT Praxis exam. Their aim is to assess future teachers on their ability to teach and their knowledge of the classroom. Each is divided by grade level and/or subject and each leads to a different certification.

Principles of Learning and Teaching Test Code Certification Area
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood 5621 Early Childhood
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6 5622 Elementary Education
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 5-9 5623 Middle School Education
Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades 7-12 5624 High School Education
World Languages Pedagogy 5841 World Languages

Arkansas Exams for Specific Licensure Areas

Finally, prospective teachers in Arkansas are asked to sign up for the Praxis exam that tests their content knowledge in the area they wish to teach. For instance, to be licensed in Elementary Education (K-6), you'd need to pass the Praxis II Elementary Education Multiple Subjects 5001, which includes four subject-level subtests: Mathematics, Reading and Language Arts, Social Studies and Science. Likewise, if you want to get the Earth Science Endorsement (7-12) to teach science at the high school level, you'd need to get a passing score on the Earth and Space Sciences: Content Knowledge Praxis.

A full list of the teacher licensure exams required in Arkansas can be found on the ETS Praxis Arkansas Test Requirements page.

Arkansas Teacher Licensing Process

You've completed your bachelor's degree, finished your educator preparation program and passed your required examinations. Kudos! Here's how to get a teaching certificate in Arkansas.

  1. In addition to proof that you completed the steps above, which would include college transcripts and Praxis test score reports, you'll need a signature from an administrator of the teacher prep program that verifies you've met all the requirements.
  2. Arkansas also requires candidates to be fingerprinted and undergo a background check.
  3. You'll submit these documents, along with an application and a $75 fee, to the online portal of the Arkansas Department of Education website. You can also request a paper application by emailing and sending your documents to:

Office of Educator Licensure

Arkansas Department of Education

Four Capitol Mall, Rooms 106-B and107-B

Little Rock, AR 72201-1071

Arkansas teacher certification renewal requires the same $75 fee, an Online Background Check Consent Form and the Child Maltreatment Central Registry Form, all of which are available online on the ADE website. To be eligible for renewal, teachers must have completed at least 36 professional development hours every school year in which they've taught in the Arkansas school system. Applications can only be submitted online; there is no paper application for renewals.

Alternative Teaching Certification in Arkansas

There are a eight different options to get alternative teaching certification in Arkansas including Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL), Arkansas Teacher Corps, the eStem Residency Program, a Master of Arts in Teaching, Teach for America, ABCTE, Provisional Professional Teaching License (PPTL) and the Prism Teacher Institute. We will highlight some of the most common options below.

Provisional Professional Teaching License (PPTL)

This route is intended for experienced professionals who have received an offer of employment from a public school in Arkansas but lack a teaching license. In this case, one's previous job experience would match the content area one intends to teach. The PPTL lasts for three years, after which candidates can receive a standard license.

Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL)

This two-year route is designed for professionals who intend to work in a classroom while fulfilling the Arkansas requirements for teacher certification. Teachers work under a Provisional Professional Teaching License and, provided they fulfill the requirements, they receive a standard license upon completion.

Arkansas Teacher Residency Model

As of the fall of 2022, the Arkansas Teacher Residency Model allows high school students and paraprofessionals who have earned the Certified Teaching Assistant credential to begin working in a classroom setting as they complete college coursework, an educator preparation program and receive coaching.

Certification in Arkansas for Out-of-State Educators

Arkansas teacher certification reciprocity allows out-of-state educators a smooth route to certification if they meet standards set by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement for Educator Licensure and the ADE. Candidates must undergo a background check and submit documents proving licensure, education and experience. The application is submitted online and requires a $75 application fee.

Veterans and military families receive reciprocity if their license from another state is in good standing. This means they will receive the equivalent Arkansas teacher certification automatically and can begin teaching as soon as their license is granted.

Arkansas Teacher Employment Outlook & Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), elementary school teachers in the state of Arkansas make an average annual salary of $49,380. Middle school teachers in the state bring home an average salary of $51,360 per year and high school teachers here make $52,540 annually.

There are 12,750 elementary school teachers employed in Arkansas, 5,750 middle school teachers and 12,030 high school teachers for a total of 30,530 teachers working in the state. The projected job growth for teachers nationwide is around the average for all occupations. The BLS predicts an 8% job outlook for high school teachers between 2020 and 2030, and a 7% job outlook for kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers during the same period.

Expert Contributor

Bryan McMahon

Bryan McMahon, M.A. is a high school biology and special education teacher in New Jersey with over 14 years of experience. He has hundreds of hours of experience tutoring aspiring teachers to take the CSET/CBEST exam suite. He has successfully passed the science and special education Praxis exams. Bryan completed a B.S. in Education from Seton Hall University and an M.A. in Teaching from Mangrove College.

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