Teach For America is a state-approved route to alternative certification in both Mississippi and Arkansas.
All corps members have the opportunity to become fully certified in at least one subject during their corps years, and initial licensure is dependent upon passing a test or tests that must be taken before the summer programming. Upon your acceptance and confirmation into the Greater Delta region, you will be given preparation resources and step-by-step directions on registering and taking your exam(s). These exams can be taken in various locations across the United States, and do not require travel to our region in order to complete.
The Mississippi and Arkansas Departments of Education also require corps members to participate in all of Teach For America Greater Delta’s professional development activities, including summer programming.
Reach out to Kewanza Williams, at firstname.lastname@example.org, with any questions about the process of joining Teach For America Greater Delta, or concerns about certification or testing in Mississippi and Arkansas.
Becoming Certified to Teach
With limited exceptions, passing baseline tests is required in order to be hired by and teach in our school districts. It is your responsibility to register for, prepare for, take, and pass all of your exams within the timeline provided by the Greater Delta; and in some cases testing support will be provided.
Teach For America serves as an alternative certification agency for both Mississippi and Arkansas. As such, Teach For America can recommend to the relevant Department of Education that corps members who meet our programming requirements earn an initial/provisional—and later an upgraded/standard—educator’s license. With a few exceptions, this will be the form in which most corps members receive notification.
A master’s degree is not required for your corps commitment. Many teachers will choose to seek advanced degrees on their own, but it is not a requirement to teach through the Teach For America program. In the Greater Delta, you can be certified through Teach For America without incurring the large costs of graduate programs. Many corps members who are interested in a master’s degree choose online programs such as those offered Johns Hopkins University. Others start a master’s program at a traditional brick-and-mortar institution during their second year.
Act 1063 of 2017, the Right to Read Act, states: “Beginning no later than the 2022-2023 school year, each state-approved educator preparation program shall post on its website information describing its program to prepare teachers to teach reading using scientific reading instruction aligned with but not limited to the content measured by the stand-alone reading assessment adopted by the State Board of Education under § 6-17-402.”
Corps members placed in Arkansas who will be teaching Elementary Education K-6 and Special Education K-12 must complete coursework and pass the Foundations of Reading test to be considered proficient in scientific reading instruction to obtain a license.
Corps members placed in Arkansas who will be teaching in all other licensure areas must complete the coursework to be considered awareness level in scientific reading instruction to obtain a license.
In 2019, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education approved (EPP Name) pathways to meet this requirement. The pathways are aligned to the appropriate Foundations of Reading Competencies – Proficiency Level or Foundations of Reading Competencies – Awareness Level.
DESE – Approved Course/Modules lists approved courses/modules for all approved licensure programs in Arkansas.
Coaches and Specialists
In the Greater Delta, we have to dedicated coaches that support the entire corps member cohort during your two-year classroom commitment. We call them Coaches of Leadership and Learning.
Teach For America’s Pre-Service program takes place over five phases, beginning with Kickoff in May and extending through corps members’ first 90 days of teaching in the fall. The program aims to develop corps members as anti-racist teacher leaders, prepare corps members to provide students with a high-quality education, and equip corps members to pursue a lifetime commitment to advancing educational equity and excellence.
Over the course of Pre-Service, corps members will engage in a combination of independent (asynchronous) and group-based (synchronous) learning experiences aligned to the four domains of learning (Instruction, Learning Environment, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Reflection). Asynchronous experiences will be a combination of modular learning (a self-contained portion of learning), discussion boards, and debriefing experiences, while the synchronous learning experiences will be grounded in collective application and practice. Corps members will do things like plan and rehearse lessons, participate in group discussions, watch videos and models of teaching, and learn new material through collaborative adult learning experiences.
The Practicum Experience
One phase of the Pre-Service program is Practicum, where corps members teach students in a partner’s summer school program. The purpose of Practicum is to provide corps members with an opportunity to put into practice the knowledge and skills acquired through the first phases of pre-service by teaching students; to begin developing an ongoing relationship with coaches, engaging them in rapid cycle observation and coaching loops; and to orient themselves to their region, the place they will continue to make an impact over the next two years.
To ensure corps members have an authentic summer school teaching experience, Teach For America’s Greater Delta region has the following needs for Practicum:
- Duration: At least three weeks long starting after the synchronous Pre-Service experience.
- Teaching Hours: A teaching day that takes place primarily in the mornings, so that corps members can engage in afternoon Centralized Learning programming. In addition, we aim for corps members to teach 5 hours per week.
- Class Sizes: Data has shown that an authentic teaching experience is essential for corps member development, so we strive for authentic class sizes where possible.