Early Childhood Teacher Certification in Iowa

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All About Early Childhood Education in Iowa

Iowa, located in the Midwest – “America’s Heartland” – has, among its claims to fame, its agricultural economy and national recognition for its exceptional education at every level: its K-12 public school system, technical and vocational training programs, dynamic community college system and world-renowned colleges and universities.

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In 2012, Iowa teachers’ average salary was $56,160. Spending per student has increased in Iowa, in contrast to the budget cuts in other states. Several initiatives and services are available for young children:

  • Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children helps four-year-old preschoolers get ready to enter the school system.
  • 3 to 5 Every Child Reads, an Iowa Department of Education (IDOE) program, also aims to help three-to-five-year-old children prepare for reading and writing by adding preparatory activities to preschool experience.
  • Early Childhood Iowa operates programs to maximize health and educational success by working with children from birth to five years old.
  • Local school districts and regional education agencies are responsible for providing Early Childhood Special Education services for their respective districts, helping children ages three to five and their families in accordance with the Disabilities Education Act, Part B.
  • The federally funded Even Start program aims to improve educational opportunities and literacy for both parents and children in low-income families, with attention to parenting training, adult basic education or literacy and early childhood learning.
  • Sanctioned by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Shared Visions Preschool Program runs child development programs to assist high-risk children aged three to five years in 51 Iowa counties.

Teacher Certification in Iowa

In order to obtain a license to teach in Iowa, you may complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree through Iowa’s teacher preparation programs. You may alternatively complete the Teacher Intern Program, which involves an internship or student teaching experience along with required coursework in a specialized content area at a qualified accredited institution. You may complete preparation programs out-of-state as long as the institution is regionally accredited and provides coursework that meets Iowa’s standards. If you opt for that route, you will need to get a teaching license within the state where the institution is located.

Applying For an Additional or New Teaching License

You are free to apply for a teaching license in Iowa once you have satisfied certain requirements:

  • You need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited Iowa college or university.
  • The degree must include completing a teacher prep program.
  • Your degree must include an approved human relations component.
  • You have to meet all the requirements for a teaching endorsement.
  • You must have passed the tests from either the state that issued the license (if you graduated before January 1, 2013) OR Iowa (if you graduated after January 1, 2013). You can find the current testing requirements on the Department of Education Practitioner Preparation & Teacher Education page.
  • You need to have either teaching experience or six college credits within the last five years.

Where to Earn Your ECE Degree in Iowa

Following are five of the many colleges offering early childhood or elementary education degrees in Iowa:

has the distinction of being one of the most prestigious schools in the Midwest. It has much more to offer than its moderate size might suggest, including small class sizes and a close student community. The Early Childhood Endorsement Program trains teachers for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. Drake offers a Bachelor of Science in elementary education, a Master of Science in teaching, and a Master of Science in teacher effectiveness and professional development.

Iowa’s premiere, top-seated teacher education program is found at the University of Northern Iowa

(UNI). Like Drake, UNI offers a quality of growth and education normally associated with a much larger institution. Degrees offered at UNI include a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and Master of Arts in early childhood education and in elementary education.

An early childhood education degree at Iowa State University

(ISU) qualifies you to work with children from birth to third grade. Practicum experience and regular coursework will prepare you for licensure to teach students in early childhood, special education or home-schooling programs. Human development and family studies as well as curriculum and instruction also share the early childhood degree major. Degrees offered at ISU include a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education and in elementary education, a Master of Science in human development and family studies, and a doctorate in human development and family studies.

(UI) College of Education goes beyond teacher education to help graduates prepare for leadership positions in areas such as advanced education, administration, measurement and testing, student development, psychology and counseling. As a Big Ten investigative and research establishment, UI offers a top-tier education. Degrees offered include a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and Teaching, Masters of Arts and of Science in Education, and a Master of Arts in Teaching.

School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) has an important goal: to help people learn all through life and in every context: in families, extended communities, educational institutions and places of employment. SESP is one of only four schools of education in Iowa accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and offers a Bachelor of Science in elementary education.

Finding Teaching Jobs in Iowa

Teach Iowa, an Iowa Department of Education-sponsored teacher recruitment website, features statewide job vacancies from regional education agencies and Iowa school districts. You can use this service at no cost.

You may want to consider private schools like Montessori or Bright Horizons in your search. Working for Head Start or for local child care centers in your area are also valid options. Many are in need of skilled educators and assistant teachers.

A great resource for quality elementary schools and preschools is GreatSchools.org.

You can get free assistance in finding opportunities, including administrative positions, in Iowa through the National School Applications Network. Visit Iowa REAP to find out more.

Iowa’s Professional Groups for Teachers

The Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children (IAEYC) works with early childhood professionals to ensure that “Every child, beginning at birth will be healthy and successful.” IAEYC is affiliated with theNational Association of Young Children.

Professional Educators of Iowa (PEI) offers membership benefits including:

  • $2,000,000 liability protection
  • Guaranteed one-on-one legal counseling
  • Individualized, education-focused advocacy

The Iowa Early Childhood Network is a select group of early childhood experts from each regional Area Education Agency who support early childhood programs in their regions.

The Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) support Iowa’s public schools and students. The goal is for each student in the “class” of 50,000 to receive the very best education possible, and this goal provides the focus for all of ISEA’s activities, including lobbying for increased and improved school and education resources, extending help to families, and building a strong support system for Iowa’s schools. Most of the over 34,000 ISEA members are classroom instructors and other licensed educators, but ISEA also embraces retired educators, local community college educators, future teachers, regional education agency workers and school support staffers. ISEA is affiliated with the National Education Association.

Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (TEACH) Early Childhood IOWA is an all-inclusive scholarship program aiming to ensure that early childhood professionals take advantage of all available education opportunities. TEACH also helps to make sure Iowa’s educators are highly qualified and fairly paid.

At Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEA), staff members work with parents and teachers to ensure that students have the resources to succeed. Iowa’s AEAs collaborate extensively with public schools as well as accredited, non-public educational institutions, and are nationally recognized as one of the premium regional service systems.

Iowa Blogs for Teachers

Let’s Talk Child Care is an extension and outreach of Iowa State University that shares resources and information about early childhood education.

Connections, overseen by Northwest AEA, aims to connect childhood and elementary educators so they can share news and resources to help children achieve more. Connections supports two blogs:

Keystone Area Education Agency is an early childhood education blog providing information to early childhood teachers on a variety of issues, with the aim of providing leadership for school improvement and student learning and living.

Outdoor Explorations for Early Learners Blog, managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, provides information as well as links to activities for teachers to bring more nature into the classroom.

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