Jul 20, 2024  
2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog 

Teacher Certification Requirements

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Students seeking initial teacher certification should contact the academic department offering the certification program (see below). NIU’s Office of the University Coordinator of Teacher Certification answers general questions about state certification requirements and refers students to the appropriate academic department for specific advising.

To teach in a public school in the state of Illinois an individual must possess an Illinois teaching certificate. NIU offers initial teacher certification entitlement programs which are approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). NIU is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Below is a list of ISBE-approved initial teacher certification entitlement programs together with the academic department (or departments) at NIU with responsibility for administering each program.

Requirements for NIU teacher-certification programs are developed by the faculty in the context of state, national, disciplinary standards and requirements. Because students must meet the requirements of state law to be recommended for certification, a student may find his or her certification requirements changed for reasons beyond the university’s control.

A student pursuing certification should meet with her or his adviser to develop a plan of study that will satisfy the certification requirements as they then exist. Once the plan of study is formally approved by the adviser, the requirements that student must meet in order to be recommended for certification will not be changed by the adviser except to the extent that it may be necessary to satisfy changes in state certification requirements. However, if other aspects of applicable departmental or university requirements are changed, the student may, with the approval of the adviser, modify the plan of study to conform to the new requirements. Because there may be delays in physical publication of new requirements as they are developed, departments and programs will make efforts to disseminate information about changes in requirements by other, more immediate means, including electronic media. A student who becomes aware of discrepancies between an approved certification plan of study and other published descriptions of certification requirements is responsible for contacting his or her adviser to ascertain whether there have been changes in state requirements that will necessitate changes in the plan of study.

Successful completion of the Illinois Certification System Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT) test is not a requirement for graduation, but it is a requirement for teacher certification in Illinois.

Entitlement Program   Academic Department/School
Early Childhood Certificate (birth through grade 3)    Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences or Teaching and Learning
Standard Elementary Certificate (K-9)   Teaching and Learning
Standard High School Certificate (6-12)
Biological Science   Biological Sciences
Chemistry   Chemistry and Biochemistry
Earth and Space Science   Geology and Environmental Geosciences
English   English
Environmental Science   Geology and Environmental Geosciences
Family and Consumer Sciences   Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences
Health Education   Nursing and Health Studies
History   History
Mathematics   Mathematical Sciences
Physical Education   Kinesiology and Physical Education
Physics   Physics
Social Science including economics, geography, political science, psychology, and sociology and anthropology   History
Standard Special Certificate (K-12)
Art (Students with an undergraduate degree must be admitted to the M.S. program in art with a specialization in art education to enter the certification program.)   Art
Blind and Partially Seeing   Teaching and Learning
French   Foreign Languages and Literatures
German   Foreign Languages and Literatures
Learning Behavior Specialist I   Teaching and Learning
Music   Music
Physical Education   Kinesiology and Physical Education
Spanish   Foreign Languages and Literatures

Students who wish to pursue more than one teaching certificate must complete the NIU program requirements for each certificate. Endorsements (see “Definitions of Terms Used in This Catalog”) are available for persons interested in broadening their qualification as teachers in conjunction with certain initial teacher certification programs.

Admission to Teacher Certification Programs

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Each department has determined whether enrollment in a degree program is necessary to pursue the teacher certification program(s) administered by that department.

Admission to the university or to a degree program in an academic department, school, or college does not necessarily constitute acceptance into a certification program. Candidates for admission to a teacher certification program should apply directly to the academic department responsible for administering the program regarding information about admission.

All candidates for admission to teacher certification programs must demonstrate competence in reading, communication, and mathematical skills. Candidates should contact the department responsible for administering the certification program regarding specific procedures for demonstrating this competence.

The GPA for all postbaccalaureate students, including those whose initial baccalaureate degree was earned at NIU, will include only postbaccalaureate course work attempted at NIU.

University Requirements for Teacher Certification

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These are the minimum university-wide requirements for teacher certification. See also the individual academic departments, because some programs exceed these requirements.

Common Requirements for Teacher Certification

Upon satisfactory completion of one or more of the above initial teacher certification programs, students will be recommended for certification. In order to be certified to teach or supervise in Illinois public schools, a person must be of good character, in sound health, and at least 19 years of age. The following general requirements must be satisfied by all candidates for certification. (See the academic department for specific information on other requirements.)

An overall GPA of 2.50 or above in all course work taken at NIU for admission to and retention in a certification program. A passing grade is required in all course work taken for teacher certification. Some programs have higher GPA and/or course grade requirements. (See the academic department about specific requirements.)
Successful completion of designated clinical experiences, including a minimum of 100 clock hours of approved clinical experience prior to student teaching. These experiences must be gradual and sequential throughout the preparation period. Completion of the requirements for the Illinois State Board of Education approved “Major Area of Specialization” for which the certificate is sought.
An earned baccalaureate degree from a recognized institution.
Successful completion of a basic skills test, a test of subject matter knowledge, and the Assessment of Professional Teaching test administered by the Illinois Certification Testing System are all required for certification.
Successful completion of course work and/or experience which contributes directly to an awareness of cultural diversity. (See the academic department about meeting this requirement.)

General Education Requirements for Teacher Certification

The university’s general education requirements for teacher certification are met when the general education requirements for an NIU baccalaureate degree have been met. A student who already holds a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, or the equivalent from a recognized foreign institution, is considered to have met the university’s general education requirements for certification.

Professional Education Requirements for Teacher Certification

Early Childhood Certificate
Standard Elementary Certificate
Standard High School Certificate
Standard Special Certificate

Each type of certificate requires the student to complete professional education courses. The course requirements for the Early Childhood, the Standard Elementary, the Standard High School, and the various Standard Special Certificates are listed in the department sections of this catalog.


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Middle Grades Endorsements

Students seeking an elementary or secondary teaching certificate who wish to teach in the middle school grades (5-8) must have a middle grades endorsement on their certificates. Depending on a student’s major, this could mean additional courses or a specific course sequence. Students should see the discipline coordinator in the area of the intended endorsement for specific information on how to become eligible for the middle grades endorsement upon being recommended for certification.

Secondary Endorsements

Students seeking a secondary teaching certificate who wish to be endorsed to teach additional subjects must have secondary subject-matter endorsements on their certificates. Students will be required to take additional course work. Students should see the discipline coordinator in the area of the intended endorsement for specific information on how to become eligible for secondary endorsements upon being recommended for certification.

Student Teaching

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Students must apply in advance for student teaching. (See the department adviser regarding the time to apply for placement.) Transportation to the student teaching site is the responsibility of the student. In addition to having completed the NIU certification program requirements, prior to student teaching the student must (a) have earned a minimum of 14 semester hours at NIU, (b) have earned 90 semester hours, and (c) make all arrangements for student teaching through the appropriate department. Students may not make their own arrangements for student teaching sites nor may they request a change once an assignment has been confirmed by the cooperating school. For additional requirements students should see the appropriate department adviser.

Retention in Teacher Certification Programs

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Admission to teacher certification programs does not guarantee continued acceptance unless the student maintains satisfactory grades and other qualifications. A candidate for a student teaching assignment or certification must have good character, sound mental and physical health, and must demonstrate the skills, attitudes, and behaviors necessary for working with children and/or adolescents, as applicable.

Specific requirements for retention in an initial teacher certification program are determined by the faculty offering that program; students should consult the academic department for information.


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A student who wishes to appeal a grade or grades should utilize the current NIU Procedures for Use in Appealing Allegedly Capricious Semester Grades of Undergraduate Students (Grade Appeal Policy). A student who wishes to appeal a decision regarding admission to, retention in, or completion of an initial teacher certification program should consult with the appropriate college advising office regarding the procedures to be followed.

Criminal Background Check

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Illinois law requires Illinois school boards to conduct a criminal background investigation on applicants for employment. This law also prohibits the employment of any person who has been convicted of committing or attempting to commit any one or more of a number of offenses. At present, offenses include first degree murder; any Class X felony; juvenile pimping; soliciting for a juvenile prostitute; exploitation of a child; obscenity; child pornography; harmful material; criminal sexual assault; aggravated criminal sexual assault; criminal sexual abuse; aggravated criminal sexual abuse; offenses set forth in the Cannabis Control Act; and crimes defined in the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. Employment must be denied whether the offenses and/or conviction occurred inside or outside the state of Illinois .

All candidates for Illinois teacher certification through programs under the purview of NIU’s Committee on Initial Teacher Certification are required to submit to a fingerprint-based criminal background check by the Illinois State Police prior to their initial field experience in the schools. A student convicted of an aforementioned offense may not be placed in any schools, and NIU will not recommend for certification a person convicted of an aforementioned offense.

Persons whose criminal background check reveals an offense other than the foregoing may be recommended for clinical placement if, in the judgment of the discipline coordinator, the offense should not disqualify the individual from such placement. In making this judgment, the discipline coordinator will consult with the college certification office, and will take into account the nature and circumstances of the offense, the lapse of time since it occurred, whether there are repeated offenses, and the nature of the certification program and of the students that it prepares candidates to teach. An adverse decision may be appealed through the appeal procedure approved by the Committee on Initial Teacher Certification.

Out-of-State Employment in Public Schools

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Other states have similar or additional certification, licensing, or employment requirements. NIU is not responsible for informing any student of statutes, rules, or regulations which might affect the future certification or employment of teachers. Students wishing admission to any NIU teacher certification program are responsible for determining their own eligibility for eventual certification in another state.


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