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Iowa ESL Teacher Job Description and Certification Requirements

Effective March 2014, the Iowa Department of Education requires all new teachers to score in the nationwide 25th percentile or better on content and pedagogy tests. The new rule is designed to strengthen teaching skills and improve the learning experience of Iowa’s students.

If you want to become an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in Iowa, please follow these steps:

Complete a Bachelor Degree and Teacher Preparation Program
Pass Pedagogy and Content Area Exams
Apply for Your Iowa Teaching License
Maintain and Upgrade Your Iowa Teaching License

 


 

Step 1. Complete an Iowa ESL Degree and Teacher Preparation Program

Iowa’s minimum requirements to obtain an initial teacher’s license include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and completion of an approved teacher preparation program. A directory of Board- approved Iowa teacher preparation programs may be found here.

You must also fulfill the state’s human relations requirement by completing an approved course that covers, among other topics, diversity in groups, interpersonal relationships and intergroup relationships.

The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners requires that you complete 18 semester hours of coursework in ESL including:

  • Linguistics
    • Sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics
    • English grammar and structure
    • Acquiring and proficiency in language
  • Pedagogy
    • Methods and curriculum in ESL
    • Assessment in academic content and language proficiency
  • Cultural and linguistic diversity
    • Current issues in immigrant populations
    • Policy and legislation
    • Theory, research and models
    • History

You must also complete supervised teaching experience, at both the K-6 and 7-12 endorsement levels. At least one of these experiences must include ESL. Most teacher preparation programs require that you complete a minimum of 12 classroom hours of ESL student teaching.

 


 

Step 2. Pass the Iowa Tests Required of ESL Teachers

Iowa does not require its teachers to pass basic skills tests, as it is assumed these skills have been assessed during your teacher preparation program. You must, however, pass pedagogy and content area testing for each endorsement you seek. Usually, these tests are administered during your teacher preparation program.

Pedagogy testing

You must pass the Praxis II Pedagogy test corresponding to the grade level in which you are certified to teach:

You must also pass the edTPA test for the endorsement area(s) you seek:

  • Teacher Elementary Classroom K-6:
    • Elementary Literacy (score of 41)
    • Elementary Math (score of 41)
    • Elementary Education (score of 49)
  • ESL Teacher K-12:
    • English as Additional Language (score of 41)

Content area testing

You must also pass the Praxis II content area examination for each area in which you seek endorsement.

 


 

Step 3. Apply for Your Iowa Teaching License and ESL Endorsement

If you have completed the education, experience and testing required, you may apply for your initial teaching license in Iowa.

  • If you are a graduate of an Iowa teacher preparation program, use the Application for Licensure (Iowa Institution).
    • Complete Section I.
    • Remember to sign and date the application.
    • Make sure to attach official, sealed college transcript(s) from all institutions attended
    • Enclose check/money order for application processing fee.
    • Verify all teaching experience.
    • Mail the entire application packet to the institution at which you completed your teacher education program. They must forward the completed application packet to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, Grimes State Office Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0146.
  • If you are a graduate of an out-of-state teacher preparation program, use the Application for Licensure (Non-Iowa Institution).
    • Complete Section I.
    • Remember to sign and date the application.
    • Make sure to attach official, sealed college transcript(s) from all institutions attended.
    • Enclose check/money order for application processing fee.
    • Verify all teaching experience.
    • Complete the fingerprint packet information and enclose the corresponding fee.
    • Include verification of passing any out-of-state teacher licensure tests.
    • Include copies of any valid teaching licenses or certificates from other states
    • Mail the entire application packet to the institution at which you completed your teacher education program. Ask them to forward the completed application packet to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, Grimes State Office Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0146.

To qualify for the ESL endorsement, you must meet one of the criteria below:

  • Receive a recommendation from your approved Iowa teacher preparation program that the requirements for the endorsement have been met
  • Receive verification from your Iowa institution that the state requirements for the endorsement have been met if you did not complete their teacher preparation program
  • Receive verification from a state approved, regionally accredited institution that the state requirements for the endorsement have been met
  • Apply for a review of your transcripts by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners

To apply for the endorsement:

 


 

Step 4. Maintain and Upgrade Your Iowa Teaching License and ESL Endorsement

After two years, you may convert your Initial Teaching License to a Standard License as long as you meet these requirements:

  • Complete the Application for Conversion from an Initial to a Standard License
  • Enclose the application fees
  • Your school administrator must complete Section 2 of the application to verify you have completed the induction/mentoring program, completed two years of teaching experience, and meet/exceed Iowa’s teacher standards
  • Send the above information to Board of Educational Examiners, Licensure, Grimes State Office Building, 400 E. 14th St., Des Moines, IA 50319-0147.

Your Standard License is valid for five years. To renew:

  • During the five year validity of your license, you must complete six credits that meet at least one of the following requirements:
    • Are from an accredited institution and add depth to your ESL endorsement
    • Are from an accredited institution and count towards completing a graduate degree
    • Are from an accredited institution and count towards completing requirements for another endorsement
    • Are chosen from among the Board-approved Iowa licensure renewal courses
    • Are earned from receiving certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (up to four credits may be earned in this manner)
    • One credit may be earned a combination of the following activities (3 points equals one credit):
      • Mentoring a student teacher for at least 12 weeks (2 points)
      • Mentoring a student teacher for less than 12 weeks (1 point)
      • Mentoring a practicum student for 60 contact hours (1 point)
      • Going to a teachers’ workshop with a mentoring student (1 point)
      • Serving for over 12 months on a teacher education program’s advisory committee (1 point)
  • Additionally, if you work in an Iowa public school or have an Iowa address, you must complete the mandatory child and dependent adult abuse reporter training
  • Mail verification of the credits above with your completed application, fees, and other supporting documentation to: Board of Educational Examiners, Licensure, Grimes State Office Building, 400 E. 14th St., Des Moines, IA 50319-0147

Graduate Degrees

Pursuing a graduate degree in teaching can help you to earn renewal credits for your Iowa teaching license. It can also help to increase your earning potential in Iowa. Examples of graduate degrees that ESL teachers in Iowa might pursue include:

  • Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL)
  • Master of Arts in Education with a Concentration in TESL
  • Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics/TESL
  • Master of Education with a Concentration in TESL

Iowa ESL Endorsement Salary Bonus Incentives

Nearly five percent of Iowa’s K-12 students were English Language Learners (ELL) in 2011-12 according to the Iowa Department of Education. The number of public school ELL students has doubled since 2000, while the number of ELL students in private schools has quadrupled during that time frame. Of the 23,050 ELL students enrolled during the 2011-12, 70% of them spoke Spanish while 3.9% spoke Vietnamese and 3.5% Bosnian.

Iowa’s state code requires that ELL students be placed in a program with highly qualified teachers who hold an ESL endorsement. This can be a challenge, since Iowa had a critical shortage of ESL teachers in 2013-14 and 2014-15 according to the U.S. Department of Education.

According to the report of an ELL task force that was presented to the Iowa Department of Education in 2013, only 1.31% of Iowa’s certified teachers were endorsed to teach ESL. At that point, almost 5% of the state’s student population was comprised of ELL students.

The need for ESL teachers is so great in Iowa that when Sioux Central Community Schools advertised for an ESL teacher for the 2014-15 school year, they had received permission for teachers lacking an ESL endorsement to apply for a temporary endorsement.

2014 salary data for teachers is available from Iowa Workforce Development and is shown below:

Grade Level
Median
Elementary School Teachers
$49597
Middle School Teachers
$50797
Secondary School Teachers
$46109

Iowa teachers with an ESL endorsement are likely to command a premium for their additional training and should earn more than the median annual salary.

Information about adult ESL teachers in Iowa is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is included in the category of Adult Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers and is shown in the following table.

Area name
Employment
Annual Median Salary
Cedar Rapids IA
Estimate Not Released
49100
Omaha-Council Bluffs NE-IA
310
42510
Southeast Iowa nonmetropolitan area
Estimate Not Released
36550

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