The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has set forth certain standards that must be met or exceeded by all teaching candidates. Through the mandated education, experience, and testing you will exhibit your skill, understanding, and ability to apply learned concepts in an elementary classroom.
Step 1 Enroll in a Teacher Education Program. In compliance with national standards, Louisiana requires that its teacher candidates hold at least a bachelor’s degree. If you have not yet earned your degree, you will not be allowed to apply for certification in the state.
If your undergraduate studies are focused on elementary education, a teacher preparation program will be included as part of your program curriculum. Completion of such a program is another of Louisiana’s educational requirements for initial certification.
If your degree is not in an education-related subject, you will need to complete a state-approved teacher training program.
Don’t let your grades slip, either. Your GPA will be taken into consideration, and if your overall average is less than 2.5, you will not be able to apply for certification.
Step 2 Get a criminal history background check. Louisiana does not require teacher candidates to pass a background check prior to application for licensure, but the state does mandate that all schools conduct such checks on any newly hired teachers. By passing a state and federal background check upon being hired, you will show that you do not have any past history that could reflect negatively on your ability to provide a safe and appropriate learning environment for students.
You will be asked by your hiring school to provide an official fingerprint card and to sign a consent form that will authorize them to conduct a background check on you. You can complete the fingerprinting process through the Louisiana State Police. Make sure to clarify exactly how you should go about this process with hiring personnel as each school may have its own protocol.
Step 3 Take the Praxis examination. You will need to pass a series of three examinations before you are considered qualified to apply for certification. These tests are a way for you to display your understanding of important concepts in a measurable way.
Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test
The Pre-Professional Skills test is a basic competency exam that measures your mastery of the most foundational concepts. This test is required for all incoming teachers, no matter what grade level or subject area they plan to teach. It consists of three separate sub-sections.
- Number and Operations
- Geometry and Measurement
- Data Analysis and Probability
- Grammatical Relationships
- Structural Relationships
- Word Choice and Mechanics
- Literal Comprehension
- Critical and Inferential Comprehension
You’ll want to brush up on all these core skills and concepts before testing. There are excellent study materials – both free and fee-based – available through ETS (the company that makes the Praxis series of tests). The site has separate resource pages for each of the math, reading, and writing portions of the exam.
You can take each subtest independently of one another. This will cost $85 per subtest. You can also take all three at one time (though you will be timed separately for each) and pay $135. Make sure to select “combined test”when registering if you wish to take all three at one time.
The next two exams focus more particularly on concepts specific to elementary education.
Elementary Education: Content Knowledge
This test will ask you to delve a bit deeper into your knowledge of specific subject areas. It’s important for you to be proficient in this broad range of content areas since elementary teachers serve as multi-subject instructors.
- Reading/Language Arts
- Social Studies
ETS has highly effective study materials available for this test, too. It is highly recommended that you leave plenty of time for studying before you register for a testing date. The cost for this exam is $115.
Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT): Grades K-6
This test is designed to look into your understanding of teaching methods, student learning processes, educational theories, and more. This is less about particular subject areas, and more about your ability to use all of the concepts you’ve learned in creating an effective and engaging classroom for your students. It is composed of five parts.
- Students as Learners
- Instructional Process
- Professional Development, Leadership, and Community
- Analysis of Instructional Scenarios
It’s important to prepare yourself well for this extensive examination. It’s a good idea to use the preparation materials provided by the makers of the Praxis tests to make sure that you know exactly what you need to study. The PLT exam will cost $139 to take.
If you test in Louisiana, your results will be automatically sent to the Louisiana Board of Education unless you specify otherwise. If you test out of state, make sure to indicate that you want your results sent to the LBOE. The Praxis scoring state code for Louisiana is 7330.
Remember that you are responsible to pay for your testing fees and will need to do so at the time of registration.
Step 4 Get the required Experience. As part of your teacher training program, you will need to complete the practicum portion of your preparation. This means that you’ll be working in a real classroom as a student teacher. During this period, you will teach a local class under the supervision of a working teacher. Advisors within your department at school will put you in touch with a local elementary classroom where you can begin your hands-on training.
At the end of your practicum semester, school administration will decide whether you should be recommended for licensure by consulting with your supervising teacher. This means that you should show up prepared and ready to learn from the very first day, as your performance is being constantly evaluated. Listen respectfully to your mentor teacher and apply yourself fully to every assignment you are given. This period is one of the most important in all of your training and education, so make the most of it by staying enthusiastic and being open to new ideas.
By immersing yourself entirely in the experience, you will come out with newfound confidence in your ability to be a great teacher.
Step 5 Complete required documentation and Apply for Certification. When you have earned your degree – complete with teacher training program, and passed the required series of Praxis tests, you’re finally ready to apply for certification.
You can do this in one of two ways. The first is to send your application packet to this address:Louisiana Department of Education
P.O. Box 94064
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9064
Or you can drop it off in person at this address:Louisiana State Department of Education
Certification, Preparation, & Recruitment
1201 N. Third Street
Claiborne Building, 3rd Floor
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9064
There will be a marked drop box at the Claiborne Building office where you can safely leave your application packet.
No matter how you get it there, make sure that you include the following items in your packet.
- Completed application form (You can download one from the LDOE site once you create an account.)
- Check or money order for $50, made out to “Louisiana Department of Education”
- Official transcripts verifying degree and coursework, including preparation program (Alternatively, you can have your school forward your transcripts to the LDOE. Make sure you include a note indicating that your transcripts will be coming directly from your school in the application packet.)
You can check the status of your application anytime by visiting TeachLouisiana.net. Just click the “status of a certification application”link, and follow the instructions.