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Louisiana Alternate Route to Teacher Certification in Special Education

Special education teachers are essential for the development of young students with learning disabilities. Louisiana offers an excellent alternative path to state certification for special education teachers!

How to Become a Special Education Teacher Using the Alternate Route in Louisiana

Special education teachers educate students with learning, mental, physical, and emotional disabilities that hinder their ability to learn in a standard classroom setting. Teachers provide specialized learning for students at no additional cost to parents or students, helping them to build the groundwork for continued success in their academic careers. Louisiana provides special education teachers with the ability to earn state certification through one of its alternate routes to licensure. Pursuing this route requires special training, hands-on experience, and passing a series of rigorous tests and coursework.

Education/Experience Required Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum 2.5 GPA
Exams Required Praxis I Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
Praxis I Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
Praxis I Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics
Principles of Learning & Teaching assessment for corresponding grade level
Praxis II Special Education: Core Knowledge & Mild to Moderate Applications
Praxis II Core Subject-Area Assessment
License Validity Period Practitioner licenses valid for three years;
Level 1 certificate valid for three years;
Level 2 certificate valid for 5 years
Certification Renewal Process Practitioner licenses renewable once annually for a maximum of three years;
Level 1 certificates nonrenewable;
Level 2 certificates renewable every five years
CEU Credits Required for Renewal CEUs not required;
150 clock-hours of professional development
Average Salary (2018) $49,480 (Preschool),
$50,300 (Kindergarten & Elementary),
$50,940 (Middle School),
$551,940 (High School)
Estimated Job Growth 2016 – 2026 3%*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth projections reflect national data

What Is Alternate Certification?

Alternate certification programs were developed in Louisiana to enable non-education majors to become certified to teach after graduation. These programs exist as a way to address teacher shortage areas while still providing students with the highest quality education available. There are three alternative routes to teacher certification in Louisiana:

  • Practitioner Teacher Program
  • Master's Degree Program
  • Certification-Only Program

The requirements for entering each program differ slightly; however, candidates must hold at least a bachelor's degree in order to enter.

Educational Requirements

Aspiring special education teachers must hold at least a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. In addition, candidates must earn at least a 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale in order to qualify for certification. If aspiring teachers enter the Master's Degree Program for alternate certification, they will earn their master's and state license simultaneously upon graduation.

Exam Requirements

All teachers completing an alternate route to certification must pass the required assessments in order to become licensed in Louisiana. The following tests are required for special education teachers (required passing scores in parentheses):

  • Praxis I Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading (156)
  • Praxis I Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing (162)
  • Praxis I Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics (150)
  • Principles of Learning & Teaching assessment for corresponding grade level (Varies)
  • Praxis II Special Education: Core Knowledge & Mild to Moderate Applications (153)
  • Praxis II Core Subject-Area Assessment (Varies)

Educators must select a grade level and content area in which to specialize in order to pass the required Praxis exams. Depending on these selections, the required scores will vary.

Certification Requirements

While teachers are earning certification through an alternate program, they may be issued a Practitioner License 1, Practitioner License 2, Practitioner License 3, or Practitioner License 4 depending on the program in which they choose to enroll. All teachers must obtain written recommendation for their licenses from their chosen university. Licenses remain valid for one school year and may be renewed once annually for a maximum of three years while teachers complete their alternate preparation program. Teachers must be actively enrolled within their alternate program in order to qualify for these renewals and must satisfy the requirements for a Level 1 Initial license or higher by the end of the maximum three-year period.

Certification Renewal

Once a Level 1 Initial license is obtained, it remains valid for three years. During this time, teachers must work to earn their Level 2 Standard Professional Certificate or Level 3 Professional Certificate. Each of these certificates is issued for five-year intervals and is eligible for renewal as long as candidates provide evidence of at least 150 clock-hours of participation in state-approved professional development activities. Applications for renewal may be submitted either online or through the mail for processing.