Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about the basics of educator certification in Illinois. One of the more confusing topics related to certification is that of endorsements.
So what is an endorsement? Basically, an endorsement is a statement appearing on a certificate that identifies the specific subjects that a teacher is eligible to teach. Endorsements and certificates go hand and hand – one cannot exist without the other. Think of it this way – the certificate tells your employer the type of school where you can teach (pre-school, elementary, high school, etc.) and the endorsement tells your employer what subject you are able to teach in that school (self-contained general education, language arts, math, biology, etc.).
Another thing to note is that endorsements may be issued at various grade levels on a certificate. This is due to the middle grades. When we reviewed the different types of certificates issued by the State of Illinois, you may have noticed that Illinois does not have a Middle School teaching certificate. Instead, the middle level grades are embedded within each of the existing teaching certificates. The middle grade level on a Type 03 certificate is grades 5-8 on a Type 03; on a Type 09 it is grades 6-8; and on a Type 10 it is grades 5-8. (*The middle grades do not exist on the Type 04 Early Childhood certificate. Remember – the grade range for this certificate is Birth to Grade 3.)
To be eligible to teach at the middle grade level on your teaching certificate, you must complete specific coursework requirements. Most middle school endorsements require 18 semester hours (27 quarter hours) of content-area coursework and 6 semester hours of middle school coursework. Also, there are no generic middle school endorsements. All middle school endorsements are tied to a specific subject area. (Example: middle school language arts)
Fortunately, you don’t have to figure this out on your own because your academic advisor can help you determine what you need to do to receive endorsements on your certificate. Most of the time, the endorsement is tied to your specific program, however, additional coursework may be required for additional endorsements.
It’s important you know what endorsements are and how to get the ones of interest to you. Some endorsements are relatively straight forward to acquire, other endorsements have specific requirements. It all depends on the endorsement, the grade level of the endorsement, and the type of certificate you want the endorsement assigned. Tell your advisor what your goals are. Conversations with your academic and faculty advisors can help you identify the types of endorsements available to you now, as well as in the future.
Next week we’ll talk about endorsements specific to certain certificates and how that works.