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The Future of Illinois Middle Grades

Why the change ?

In 2011, Illinois stakeholders began working to identify ways to meet the need for better prepared middle grade educators in Illinois. Due to updates to Illinois and national learning standards, all teachers were required to teach more in-depth content than ever before at all grades.

Students were expected to know more by the time they got to middle grades. Therefore, strong content educators were needed in middle grade classrooms, and robust preparation programs specifically focused on this unique age group of students were needed to prepare these educators. The middle grades programs and requirements are designed to work within the framework of the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards while including strong preparation in middle grades pedagogy (including pedagogy to address specific psychological and social/emotional needs), differentiation, diversity and cultural awareness (geographic, cultural, etc.), and literacy and numeracy (including statistics) throughout all content areas.

As middle grade education has evolved, so has the Illinois licensure structure. The field frequently uses the words “Junior High,” “Middle School,” and “Middle Grades” interchangeably. These terms describe different requirements, and consequentially define different endorsements. Before reviewing this guide, it is important to understand the terminology that has been utilized for licensure throughout the years. The following table clarifies historical licensure terminology.

For more information about Middle Level Programs, contact the Teacher Education Department.

How to obtain a middle level endorsement:

There are several ways to earn a middle level endorsement:

  1. Declaring Major in Middle Level Education (Apply through Registrar Services):

Declaring your major in Middle Level Education with a concentration in one or more of these areas:

        a. Social Studies

        b. Language Arts

        c. Science

       d. Mathematics

2. Adding the First Middle Level Endorsement (Apply through the GCOE Dean’s Office): Minimum requirements:

      a. Hold a Professional Educator License (PEL) or be enrolled in a program leading to a PEL.

     b. 21 credit hours in content specific to the area of the endorsement (i.e. Social Studies, Mathematics,    Language Arts, Science).

     c. 3 credit hours in methods course-specific to the middle level content area.

    d. Specific Content Area Test in middle level: Social Studies (#204), Mathematics (#202), Language Arts (#201), Science (#203).

Complete a Middle Level Endorsement Application.

3. Adding a First Middle Level Endorsement in Additional Areas (Apply through the GCOE Dean’s Office).

     a. Hold a Professional Educator License (PEL) or be enrolled in a program leading to a PEL.

     b. 21 credit hours in content specific to the area of the endorsement (i.e. Art, Dance, Health Education, LBS I, Music, Physical Education, Geography, Theatre/Drama).

     c. 3 credit hours in methods course specific to the middle level content area.

    d. Specific Content Area Test in middle level: Visual Arts (145), Dance (140), Health Education (142 or 211), LBSI (155), Music (143), Physical Education (144), Geography (113), Drama/Theater Arts (141).

   e. General Middle Grades test (Available in Spring 2018): If you have a PEL endorsed in K-12 or PK21, you do not need this test. It is only required if an educator is seeking endorsement outside the four core middle grade areas: Mathematics, Science, Social Science & Language Arts. This test can be waived with one year of teaching experience in grades 5-8 or a passing score on the Elementary/Middle Grades (#110) test.

Complete a Middle Level Endorsement Application.

4. Focus Program (Apply through Graduate Admissions): This is a subsequent endorsement program for those who have a PEL and want to add a middle level endorsement in a content area. This is a non-degree program.

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