To start teaching in Mississippi, you will need to become licensed by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE). Before you can be eligible to apply for licensing, you must meet the state’s requirements for incoming educators. The path to certification includes getting the right education and training, as well as verifying your competency through evaluations.

Step 1 Enroll in a Teacher Education Program. Like all U.S. states, Mississippi teachers must hold at least a bachelor’s degree. In order to comply with other state requirements, your degree will need to be in Elementary Education or something equivalent.

During the course of your degree program, you will participate in a teacher training program. For your degree and training program to be recognized, they will need to be earned from a fully accredited institution running a state-approved degree program.

Step 2 Get a criminal history background check. You won’t need to undergo a background check to apply for certification in Mississippi. Your employment, however, will be contingent upon your passing a state and federal background check – as well as a child sex offender registry check. When you are being considered for employment, the hiring school will give you specific instructions on how to go about submitting your fingerprints for these checks. Your prints will be run against state police records, then passed along to the FBI who will check them against a nationwide criminal database.

These checks are mandated as a safety precaution to keep convicted criminals and child predators from having access to children. Since teachers are trusted to work closely and in an oft-unsupervised environment with kids, they are expected to hold themselves to high standards of conduct.

Step 3 Take the Praxis examination. Mississippi uses the Praxis testing system to test for proficiency in key subjects and concepts. All new applicants for elementary education licensure must pass three Praxis series exams.

Core Academic Skills for Educators

This basic competency exam is split into three separate subtests, each with its own set of subcategories.

  1. Reading
    • Key Ideas and Details
    • Craft, Structure, and Language Skills
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
  2. Writing
    • Text Types, Purposes, and Production
    • Language and Research Skills for Writing
  3. Mathematics
    • Number and Quantity
    • Algebra and Functions
    • Geometry
    • Statistics and Probability

To take all three subsections at one time, make sure you select “Core Academic Skills for Educators: Combined Test”at registration time. Otherwise, you will have to take each section separately. Taken independently of one another, each subsection will cost $85. Combined, the entire test costs $139.

Praxis provides separate study materials for the math, writing, and reading sections.

Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT): Grades K-6

This is a test designed to gauge your readiness and ability to manage a class and to successfully apply concepts of professionalism, learning and development theories, and methods of instruction. The five subareas of this exam are as follows.

  1. Students as Learners
  2. Instructional Process
  3. Assessment
  4. Professional Development, Leadership, and Community
  5. Analysis of Instructional Scenarios

Find official Praxis study materials for this exam here. The cost to take the PLT for grades K-6 is $139.

Elementary Education: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

This test explores your understanding of the principles and processes of creating, teaching, and testing effective course curriculum in the subjects that you will be teaching as an elementary educator. It has six sections.

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

The testing fee for this exam is $115. All exam fees are non-refundable. The collection of Praxis study materials for the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment exam can be found here.

Step 4 Get the required Experience. As a part of your teacher training program, you will enroll in practicum coursework. This work, more commonly known as student teaching, will involve your being placed in a local classroom that closely matches the age group you’ll eventually be teaching.

During your student teaching program, you will be given a chance to practice what you have learned in a supervised environment. You’ll get to lead the class through various activities, lessons, and assessments and you will be able to closely observe an experienced elementary school teacher in action. This is intrinsic to your overall success because no matter how well you absorb the concepts and theories you’ve been taught, there is nothing that can prepare you to confidently walk into your own classroom like real-life experience. It provides a vital stepping stone between sitting in the classroom as a student and standing in front of it as a teacher.

To prepare yourself for student teaching success, do a little research on the school that offers you internship. Part of what you are learning is how to behave professionally, and this includes adhering to rules, codes of conduct, and even unwritten of laws of etiquette. Come well-prepared and ready to learn every day. Keep everything you have learned so far in mind, but don’t be too rigid; if you’re not open to constructive criticism, it will be hard for you to grow and develop professionally.

Step 5 Complete required documentation and Apply for Certification. If you have successfully fulfilled each of these requirements, you can apply for official certification. You can apply online by setting up an account with the MDE. You can also print off the paper form and mail it in with your verification materials. Prepare an application packet with the following documents.

  • Official, unopened transcripts verifying undergraduate coursework
  • Completed licensure application (Make sure you have submitted the Institutional Program Verification portion of the application form to the Dean of Education at your school; he or she must complete this section before you send in your application.)
  • If you took your exams in a state other than Mississippi, you will need to submit original documentation (no photocopies) of your passing scores. If you tested in-state, your scores will have been sent directly to the MDE.

Mail the packet to the MDE at the address below.

Mississippi Department of Education
Office of Educator Licensure
P.O. Box 771
Jackson, MS

Mississippi is one of the states offering alternative routes to certification for candidates with a bachelor’s degree that did not include a teacher training program. You can learn about them here.