To become certified to teach elementary school in Missouri, you must meet or exceed the licensure standards set forth by the state Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE). These standards have been put in place to ensure that all Missouri classrooms are staffed by well-qualified educators.

Step 1 Enroll in a Teacher Education Program. Before you can be considered a candidate for licensure, it is required that you earn a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification program through an accredited, higher learning institution. This is where you will learn the fundamentals – the skills, theories, techniques, and content area knowledge that you will need to teach

During the course of your undergraduate work, you will participate in a teacher training program. In Missouri, this must make up at least 60 credit hours of your overall coursework. The training program must meet state requirements in order to be recognized by the DESE.

Missouri also has a GPA requirement, and you must carry at least a 2.5 overall grade point average over the course of earning your bachelor’s degree.

Step 2 Get a criminal history background check. A fingerprint-based background check is an absolute must for all teaching licensure applicants. Even if you have submitted fingerprints elsewhere, you will need to submit a set in-state for use in applying for your teacher’s license. This process can be started through the state Highway Patrol’s Missouri Automated Criminal History Site (MACHS). Begin by pre-registering online. You must obtain a 4-digit registration number from your school to access the system. If you were not given one, you can use the general code for educators: 2300.

After you have pre-registered and set an appointment, you can go to an approved fingerprint location and have your prints taken. The cost is around $45, which you are responsible for paying. Once your state and federal checks have cleared, you can apply for certification.

Missouri mandates a fingerprint-based search to avoid any kind of fraud or misrepresentation among applicants. By allowing these checks, you are providing the transparency that is necessary in someone who will work with children in an unmonitored situation.

Step 3 Take the Praxis examination. As a measure of your knowledge in key subjects and concepts, you will undergo two major examinations. The first is required of all teacher candidates in Missouri. The other is specific to elementary school teachers.

College Basic Academic Subjects Examination (CBASE)

You will have to take the CBASE to gain entry into any teacher training program in the state. It is a general educational knowledge test, subdivided into four areas of focus.

  1. Language Arts
  2. Math
  3. Science
  4. Social Studies

During the exam, you will be asked questions that will test your understanding of these concepts as well as your strategic, interpretive, and adaptive reasoning capabilities.

The CBASE is usually taken early in your academic career. Talk to your advisors to figure out when you should take it. Most schools offer CBASE testing multiple times during an academic year. Generally, you’ll register and pay for the test through your school and the exact cost may vary. Your CBASE scores will be sent directly to you by mail.

There are some study materials available on the Missouri State University website, and the official study guide from the 2011-2012 test can be viewed and downloaded here. It’s best to talk to your school about where to find the most current preparation materials, as they will probably have the latest study guides and handbooks.

Elementary Education: Curriculum, Instructions, and Assessment

All elementary teacher certification candidates must also pass the this exam, part of the Praxis series of tests. It is constructed to evaluate your competence in creating and implementing curricula, in conducting assessments, as well as your ability to effectively communicate with students. These qualities are explored within the context of six subject areas that you will be expected to teach.

  1. Reading and Language Arts
  2. Mathematics
  3. Science
  4. Social Studies
  5. Arts and Physical Education
  6. General Information about Curriculum, Instructions, and Assessment.

The cost to take this exam is $115. Find testing centers and schedule your appointment on the Praxis site. Make sure to leave yourself enough time to study thoroughly. You will find a collection of excellent preparation tools on this page.

If you take the Praxis test at a Missouri testing center, your results will automatically be submitted to the Missouri DOE. If you test in another state, make sure to specify that you would like your results sent to Missouri (use state code 7625).

Step 4 Get the required Experience. States put experience requirements in place to make sure that teacher candidates have had ample opportunity to apply their knowledge in a practical setting before entering the workforce. In order to graduate from your Missouri-based teacher preparation program, you will participate in clinical experience that will fulfill the state’s experience requirements. This will include 2 credit hours of preclinical field work, and 8 credit hours of student teaching in a local classroom.

To prepare for your clinical work, make sure you consult advisors in your teacher training program for any instructions or advice they may have. Your school should provide you with some literature outlining the basic guidelines you need to follow. When you are in your host classroom (and anywhere on the campus of your host school), conduct yourself in a friendly and professional manner. You will be evaluated not only on your competence in academic subject areas, but also on your ability to interact positively within the school community.

Step 5 Complete required documentation and Apply for Certification. Once you have fulfilled the state’s requirements, you may submit an application for certification.

This process is facilitated through the DESE online application system.

You will have to set up an account, after which you will be given specific instructions regarding which documents to submit to the DESE, how to pay your application fees, and how to go about completing the application process. You will likely be asked to send in your college transcripts. Any testing scores or institutional recommendations are usually sent directly to the DESE. Send any requested items to:

Educator Certification
P.O. Box 480
Jefferson City, Missouri

Once you have been granted certification, you will be able to print your license right from the site.

Missouri is among the states that offer non-traditional routes to certification. You can learn more about them here.