The Arkansas Department of Education licenses all early childhood educators (P-4) in Arkansas. If you want to become a licensed preschool teacher in Arkansas, you must be prepared to complete the following:
According to the Arkansas Occupational Employment and Wage Survey, there were 2,090 preschool teachers employed in Arkansas, as of July 2014. The average salary among them was $30,640 during that time, with the most experienced in the field earning an average salary of $36,570.
In addition to abiding by Arkansas Teaching Standards, preschool teachers in Arkansas—referred to as Early Childhood Education Birth-Kindergarten educators—must demonstrate knowledge and/or competencies in the following areas:
- Development of young children, developmentally appropriate approaches to learning, and individual differences
- Learning environments
- Content knowledge, curriculum building, and instructional planning/strategies
- Assessment and documentation
- Relationships and collaboration with families, colleagues, and community
- Professionalism and ethical practice
Step 1. Complete an Approved Licensure Preparation Program
You may qualify for an early childhood educator license in Arkansas through a number of Arkansas preparation programs, including:
- Traditional educator preparation program: This program involves the completion of a traditional approved preparation program, which includes a bachelor’s degree or higher, pedagogy requirements, and a student teaching experience. There are currently 20 traditional licensure preparation programs in Arkansas in early childhood (P-4) education at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
- Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL): The APPEL program is designed for candidates who already possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university. APPEL candidates may begin working as a teacher in Arkansas upon completion of the state mandated assessments while they complete the APPEL program requirements, which include on-the-job learning, mentoring, structured assessments, and online and face-to-face instructional modules.
The successful completion of an APPEL program may result in a master’s degree; there are currently 6 approved non-traditional teacher preparation programs in Arkansas.
Approved licensure preparation programs (both traditional and non-traditional) in Arkansas are provided by Arkansas colleges and universities.
- Provisional Professional Teaching License: If you already possess a bachelor’s degree or higher in early childhood education and you have at least three years of teaching experience in this field, you may qualify for a Provisional Professional Teaching License.
To qualify for a provisional professional teaching license, you must successfully complete all required basic skills assessments and at least 24 hours of training in pedagogy. Further, you must already have an offer to teach in an Arkansas public school. A five-year educator’s license may be achieved following the expiration of a provisional professional teaching license, provided you receive a recommendation from your employing school district and submit a summative evaluation to the Board.
Step 2. Pass All Required Assessments for Licensure
All candidates for licensure in Arkansas must complete specific assessments. As a preschool teacher candidate, you must complete one of the following:
If you are applying for an age 3-4 endorsement, you must complete:
- Education of Young Children (5024): Qualifying score: 160
If you are applying for a P-4 endorsement, you must complete:
- Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood: Qualifying score: 157
If you are applying for an early childhood P-4 endorsement, you must complete:
- Early Childhood: Content Knowledge: Qualifying score: 157
You can find information on testing procedures, registration, and test preparation here.
Step 3. Apply for a Provisional and Standard License to Teach Early Childhood Education
After you have successfully completed all necessary requirements for licensure to become an early childhood preschool teacher in Arkansas, you must apply for a Provisional Educator’s License, during which time you will work under the guidance of a mentor. The mentoring program must be at least one year in length; upon successfully completing the program, you may apply for a Standard Educator’s License in Arkansas.
Your standard Arkansas teacher license is valid for 5 years, during which time you must complete at least 36 hours of professional development every year. (The original 60-hour requirement for license renewal concluded with the 2013-14 school year.) All standard license renewals in Arkansas can be completed online through the Arkansas Department of Education Teacher Licensure System.
Additional information on license renewal can be found here.
Step 4. Learn about Becoming a Preschool Teacher through the Arkansas Better Chance Program
The Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) Program is a state-funded program that is designed to serve educationally deprived children in Arkansas from age birth through 5 years (not including a kindergarten program). It now serves all children ages 3 and 4 years who come from families with a gross income not exceeding 200 percent of federal guidelines.
The Arkansas Better Chance Programs is a division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE). However, the Arkansas State Board of Education approves all rules and approves all programs funded under the Arkansas Better Chance Program, including teacher education and licensure requirements::
- Lead teachers in an ABC program must hold a standard teacher license with a P-4 certification/endorsement.
- Non-public schools may hire a non-certified teacher with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or child development.
- Public schools or non-cooperative based ABC Programs cannot hire teachers with a provisional/initial license.
- Non-public school/co-op based providers may be exempt from degree requirements on a case-by-case basis and contingent upon the teacher possessing the required number of hours in early childhood/early development.
- Lead teachers must be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of:
- Developmentally appropriate programming
- Curriculum development and daily classroom management
- For multiple-classroom sites, teachers of secondary classrooms must hold, at a minimum, an associate’s degree in early childhood education or early childhood development.
- The paraprofessional must hold at least one of the following:
- An associate’s degree in early childhood education or childhood development; OR
- A Child Development Associate (CDA) credential through the Council for Professional Recognition
All ABC teachers in Arkansas must complete at least 30 hours of staff development between July 1 and June 30 of every year. These hours must be related to early childhood education and must be approved by the DCCECE. ABC teachers who are pursuing an early childhood degree may count their college course hours toward their staff development annual requirements.
Additional information on Arkansas’ Better Chance Program can be found here.
Arkansas Preschool Teacher Salaries
The demand for preschool teachers is expected to increase 16.1% in Arkansas in the ten-year period leading up to 2018 according to the state’s Department of Workforce Services.
More than 49% of these new jobs are expected to come from growth in this field. The rest are expected to come from the replacement of teachers who will leave the workforce.
The average 2009 preschool teacher salary in Arkansas was $25,570. Salaries ranged from $15,960 for entry-level teachers to $30,380 for those with experience. Pre-K teacher salaries in Arkansas varied a great deal throughout the state. The salary of experienced teachers was particularly high in Pine Bluff as shown below:
The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services reported that 3,870 preschool teachers were employed in the state in 2009. 35.1% of these teachers worked in the Little Rock area, while 15.5% of them were in the Fayetteville area.
This department also provides statistics on the 2008 employers of preschool teachers. 64.5% of Arkansas’ preschool teachers worked at child day care services that year.
The second largest employer was the public school system. 21.4% of the preschool teachers worked for 2,481 different schools. Additional types of employers included the following:
Social advocacy organizations
Emergency and other relief services
Management of companies and enterprises
Civic and social organizations
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides 2013 Arkansas preschool teacher salaries in the following table: