December 06, 2005

Weekly Certification Q&A: How can I prepare for the Illinois Basic Skills exam?

Are you planning to register for the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS) Basic Skills test? If so, you may want to take a look at a new online resource to help you get ready for the exam. ICTS now makes available a "Basic Skills Diagnostic Practice Test."

It'a available on the ICTS web site (Click here) free of charge. It's available for you to use 24/7. You can use the study tool online or you may download and print out the practice materials. This is a full-length practice test that includes multiple-choice questions and a writing assignment similar to the Basic Skills test.

Check it out online now at

Posted by n-battaglia at 01:56 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2005

Weekly Certification Q&A: Special Education General Curriculum Test

Q: I've heard that there's a new certification exam on the horizon for special education teachers. Can you tell me about it?

A: Yes, there will be a new exam required for those applying for a special certificate. It's called the "Special Education General Curriculum Test" and will be required (along with the currently required Basic Skills, Content, and APT exams) of those applying for certification after October 1, 2006. Here's what the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS) Registration Bulletin says:

Special Education General Curriculum Test: Effective October 1, 2006, this new test will be required of candidates taking one of the following tests for issuance of a special education teaching certificate: Learning Behavior Specialist I, Early Childhood Special Education, Speech-Language Pathologist: Teaching, Teacher of Students Who are Blind or Visually Impaired, and Teacher of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. This new test will assess candidates on the General Curricular Standards for Special Education Teachers.

If you have additional questions about how this exam requirement will impact your program and certificate application, contact your academic advisor.

Posted by n-battaglia at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2005

Weekly Certification Q&A: Who can get a transcript evaluation from the State Board of Education?

As you may know, it used to be the case that an individual with teaching experience could request a transcript evaluation from the Illinois State Board of Education and be issued a "deficiency statement" identifying the minimum requirements to earn the certificate applied for. This is no longer the case except in special circumstances involving individuals who have been certified outside of Illinois or who have completed approved programs in a state other than Illinois.

Once teacher certification requirements transitioned fully to a standards-based approach (and state checklists of minimum course requirements disappeared), it no longer made sense for the state to do evaluations of transcripts against lists of courses. Of course! The course lists no longer existed.

It became the proper task of the state's approved certification programs (like the ones at GSU) to evaluate individuals backgrounds against pertinent state certification standards and local program experiences (e.g., courses, assessments, field experiences, etc.) designed to measure candidate performance against the state standards.

Here's what the state guide says today:

Transcript evaluation [by ISBE] is available only to persons who either have completed an approved program in another state or who hold another state's certificate comparable to the certificate they seek in Illinois. Applicants submit their application and official transcripts to the Illinois State Board of Education where the staff reviews the application, the applicant's courses and previous teaching experience to determine if the applicant meets minimum requirements for certification.

All persons applying for subsequent certificates [Note: "Subsequent certificate" refers to an additional certificate applied for by someone who already holds a certificate] after December 31, 2004, will be required to attend an Illinois college offering an approved program for the certificates they seek. Universities can develop focused programs for these persons by evaluating work previously done by the applicants and require only additional work that will allow the students to meet the standards for the new certificate and subject.

Transript evaluation will continue to be available for certificates that do not require prior training in education, such as substitute certificates, provisional vocational certificates, transitional bilingual certificates, and others.

The approach to "focused programs" taken at this time by GSU is that applicant transcripts and experience are evaluated and compared to existing program requirements. Candidates must complete all approved program requirements that have not been fully covered by previous course work and/or experience. Academic advisors and program coordinators will be able to help you with this process.

Contact me if you have any questions.

Nick Battaglia
Coordinator of Academic Services
College of Education
(708) 534-4393

Posted by n-battaglia at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2005

Monday Certification Q&A: How do I get from initial to master certificate?

There are three professional teaching certificate levels:

Initial Level: The Initial Certificate is issued to new teachers and registered for four years at a time. The Initial Certificate is valid until four years of teaching have been obtained and expires on June 30 of the fourth year of experience. Initial Certificate holders must complete one of a number of available professional development options for obtaining a Standard Certificate during the time they hold the Initial Certificate.

Standard Level: Initial Certificate holders must qualify for the Standard level once they have completed four years of teaching on an Initial Certificate. Persons who held four-year standard certificates prior to the statutory change that took effect in 2000 were issued new five-year Standard certificates subject to renewal requirements when they next registered their certificates. The Standard Certificate is valid for five years and is renewable at the end of each registration period. Standard Certificate holders must complete continuing professional development requirements by the end of each registration period to renew the certificate for another five-year period. Once teachers obtain a Standard Certificate, any subsequent teaching certificates issued to them will also be Standard level. Teachers from other states with four years of teaching experience or with a certificate from another state equivalent to our Standard certificate are eligible to apply for a Standard Certificate.

Master Level: Valid for 10-year periods, the Master Certificate is issued to persons who have met the rigorous standards of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). The renewal requirement for this certificate is the same as the requirement for the five-year Standard certificate. There is no application fee or testing requirement for the Master level certificate.

Posted by n-battaglia at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2005

Monday Certification Q&A: What kinds of teaching certificates are there, anyway?

Illinois issues professional teaching certificates in these areas:

- Early Childhood Education valid for teaching children from birth to grade three

- Elementary Education valid for teaching children from kindergarten through grade nine

- Secondary Education valid for grades six through twelve

- Special Education valid for teaching children in specified subjects from kindergarten through grade twelve

- Special/Special Education valid for teaching children with disabilities from pre-school to age 21.

GSU offers programs in each of these categories. Click here to see a listing of Governors State University school professional certification programs.

Posted by n-battaglia at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2005

Monday Certification Q&A: What tests must I take?

In order to be certified in Illinois for any of the following certificates at the initial or standard level...

-Type 04, Early Childhood;
-Type 03, Elementary;
-Type 09, Secondary; or
-Type 10, Special Certificate...

The Illinois State Board of Education requires the following examinations:


Basic Skills Test

-Required prior to issuance of the certificate.

-Effective July 2002, required of candidates prior to entering teacher education programs leading to any of these certificates (PA 92-734).

Content Test

-The appropriate test of content knowledge is required prior to issuance of the certificate.

-Effective Fall 2004, candidates in Illinois approved programs may be required by the university to pass the appropriate test of content knowledge prior to student teaching

-Beginning July 2003, new special education content tests replaced existing special education tests.

-Beginning July 2004, new content tests for all other teaching certificates replaced existing content tests.

Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT)

-Individuals who apply for one of above certificates on or after October 1, 2003, are required to take the APT prior to the issuance of any of these certificates.

-There are four levels of this test, one for each certificate type: Early Childhood (birth to grade 3), Elementary (K-9), Secondary (6-12), Special (K-12/P-21).

Learn more about this topic online at this location.

Or contact your advisor at GSU.

Posted by n-battaglia at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2005

Monday Certification Q&A: The Initial Certificate

We'll include a weekly certification 'factoid' each Monday afternoon. This is just for fun, but may also serve to fill in a gap in your Illinois certification knowledge base, answer a question you've always wondered about, or point out a useful resource or website. Here we go!

Q: What is an "initial certificate"?

A: The Illinois State Board of Education website provides the following information:

Illinois has a three-tiered certification system: 1) Initial, 2) Standard and 3) Master teaching certificates. Initial teaching certificates are issued to teachers who have less than four years of teaching.

Initial certificate holders, whether employed in public or nonpublic schools, are required to move from Initial to Standard certification. To do so, you must accrue four years of teaching on a valid certificate and complete one of the professional development options.

You can read more about this topic at

Posted by n-battaglia at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)