How to Become a Preschool Teacher in Missouri

An ECE Missouri Degree & Career Guide

How to Become an ECE Preschool Teacher in Missouri

Being a Preschool Teacher in Missouri is a job that’s taken seriously by lawmakers such as Margie Vandeven, the Missouri Education Commissioner. One of her goals is, with the support of Missouri Governor Mike Parson, to expand early childhood education, particularly in the early childhood education area. She wants to give all Missouri infants, toddlers, and their families the support they need through funding for high-quality learning opportunities. Although Missouri offers quality early childhood education programs, its public early childhood education programs are underfunded and have a long waiting list. Often students who enter the program are in need of specialized consideration, especially for those large numbers of children who are from low-income families.

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Steps to Becoming an Early Childhood Teacher in Missouri

Step 1. Earn Your Degree

  • Fill Out the Missouri Educator Profile or MEP
    You must fill out the MEP. It is 192 multiple-choice questions meant to determine your personality and how you would handle a preschool classroom. It’s also the basis for meeting with your ECE counselor before you are admitted to a university or college’s ECE program. The online survey is not scored, and it does not affect your admission to the university or college. You can register for the survey online at the Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments. There is a fee to complete the MEP, but you can do so online from anywhere you like.
  • Take the Missouri General Education Assessment or MoGEA
    To be admitted into Missouri’s professional education program, you must take the MoGEA which replaces the College BASE or CBASE test. The test is administered online; covers five subtests - English, math, social science, science, and writing; and contains multiple choice questions plus the writing assignment. You must pass all five subtests. Passing scores are determined by the college or university you attend. You can register for the test online at the Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments.
  • Complete an approved ECE program
    To teach in a public or private school setting, you must complete a state-approved undergraduate teacher educator preparation program in Early Childhood Education. Not only must your education be from an approved institution, but it must also be from an accredited institution. Your courses will include general studies, such as mathematics, writing, and introductory psychology. It will also include focused studies on early childhood education, such as Introduction to Education, Behavior Management, Elementary Math, etc. You must complete a requirement of 60 semester hours of ECE coursework, have an overall GPA of a minimum of 2.75 out of 4.0, and also have a minimum of 3.00 in your early childhood education courses.
  • Obtain a recommendation
    Upon your graduation from the undergraduate ECE program, a recommendation by the official designated for teacher education at your university or college must be obtained to be licensed to teach ECE in Missouri.

Step 2. Take Your Exams to Become a Preschool Teacher in Missouri

  • Take the Missouri Pre-Service Teacher Assessment or MoPTA
    You will be tested regarding your current teaching environment and workplace plans to determine how prepared you are to teach.
  • Take the Missouri Content Assessments
    You must take the online Missouri Content Assessment tests. It replaced the Praxis II series as the standard for Missouri educators years ago. The test contains 100 multiple-choice questions, and you must pass with a score of at least 220. It can be taken by appointment year-round.

Step 3. Obtain a Missouri Early Childhood Educator Initial Professional Certificate

You cannot apply for an ECE initial professional certificate in Missouri without completing Steps 1 and Steps 2. If you have completed these steps, you are eligible to receive your initial professional certificate to be licensed to teach in an ECE program in Missouri. The initial professional certificate is good for four years.

  • An online application must be completed and submitted to your college or university. Your college or university will then forward it on to the state of Missouri for processing.
  • Your background must be cleared by the state of Missouri before you can teach. The includes a criminal background check as well as fingerprints. To obtain this background check you are required to pre-register online at the State Highway Patrol’s Missouri Automated Criminal History Site or MACHS.

Step 4. Potential Credentials, Requirements and Certifications Needed in Missouri

When your four-year initial professional certificate is complete, you can apply for a Continuous Career Education Certificate or CCEC. This certificate is valid for 99 years. You must satisfy the following to qualify for the CCEC.

  • You must have completed four years of a teaching experience approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education or DESE. Your teaching experience must include at least half-time teaching at one of the Missouri public school system or in a Missouri accredited private school. If you substitute teach or work as a teacher’s assistant or aide, that does not qualify.
  • You must have a mentor who is a teacher, assigned by your school district, and that teacher must mentor you for at least two years.
  • You must have at least 30 contact hours of professional development. College credits may be included.
  • Successfully complete a beginning teacher assistance program. The program needs to be offered by a professional teacher organization, Missouri college, or the Regional Professional Development Center or RPDC.
  • Successfully complete in the annual Performance Based Teacher Evaluation conducted by the school that employs you.
  • Create and put into action a professional development plan. This plan must be on file with the school district.

Specialized or Additional Certifications

Physical Education -
A certification is required through the DESE of Missouri.

Special Education -
Your undergraduate degree should be Bachelor of Science in Special Education with a focus on early childhood education. You must pass the Missouri Content exams and gain certification.

English as a Second Language -
You must obtain advanced education past the undergraduate level. Information can be found at TESOL International Association. You must pass the Missouri Content exams and gain certification.

School Administrator -
Three kinds of certifications are granted to qualified applicants including: Initial Administrator, good for four years; Transition Administrator, granted after the four years and when you are enrolled in the required doctoral program; and Career Continuous Administrator, granted after you have completed your doctoral program and ten or more years of employment. To be an Elementary Principal you must complete an approved master’s degree program in educational leadership, pass the necessary examinations, and have at least two years of classroom teaching experience.

Teach for America -
This is a low-income focus/specialization. You must satisfy all of the requirements needed by the Teach for America program.

Troops to Teachers or TTT -
This is a program for military personnel who are retiring and who want a second career as a public-school teacher. You must satisfy all of the requirements designated by TTT.

Accredited Early Childhood Educator Teacher Preparation Programs

To be a preschool teacher in Missouri you must complete an early childhood education program at an approved college or university. You will find approximately 20 early childhood education colleges or universities in Missouri. Here are some of them:

  • The College of Education at the University of Missouri – Columbia Missouri

    Launched in 1867, the University of Missouri’s College of Education prides itself on creating innovative approaches to education for Missouri residents and others across the nation including “study ready” approaches, outreach solutions that benefit children and families, approaches to strengthen schools and organizations, and more.

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; Masters, Dr., and Post-grad Certificate
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelors
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelors
    • Multicultural Education; Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelors, Masters, & Dr.

    Accreditation By:

    • The Higher Learning Commission
    • Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation
    • Teacher Education Program
    • Educational Leadership Program
  • Evangel University – Springfield, Missouri

    Launched in 1955 and renamed Evangel University in 1998, the university has a focus on developing teachers with a Christian focus and who will teach with the Christian faith in mind. There is also a focus on serving the needs of the communities in Missouri and across the globe. The early childhood education programs are comprehensive.

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; Masters
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelors
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelors
    • Reading Teacher Education; Masters

    Accreditation By:

    • The Higher Learning Commission
    • Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation
    • Missouri State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Fontbonne University – St. Louis, Missouri

    The Catholic and private Fontbonne University was founded in 1923 and bases its traditions and values on the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph or CSJ. These include things like faith, respect, diversity, service, service, and more. Fontbonne’s early childhood education program includes both coursework and practical experience.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelors
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Autism; Post-grad Certificate
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Hearing Impairments Including Deafness; Bachelors & Masters
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelors
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelors & Masters

    Accreditation By:

    • The Higher Learning Commission
    • Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation
    • Missouri State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Lindenwood University – St. Charles, Missouri

    Founded in 1827, Lindenwood’s School of Education has a goal to prepare its students, while meeting the standards of the accrediting organizations, to be not only exceptional teachers who are highly regarded but also globally minded. Educators are taught to demonstrate best practices while being caring and skilled. They are also taught to be lifelong learners with an interest in developing and adapting to changes in education.

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; Masters
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelors
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals in Early Childhood Special Education Programs; Bachelors
    • Education/Teaching of the Gifted and Talented; Masters
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelors
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelors
    • Superintendency and Educational System Administration; Masters & Post-grad Certificate
    • ESL/ Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language; Masters

    Accreditation By:

    • The Higher Learning Commission
    • Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
    • Council for Higher Education Accreditation
  • University of Missouri – Kansas City, Missouri

    The University of Missouri was founded in 1839 and the Kansas City campus is one of four campuses that make up the university and its launched was promoted by Thomas Jefferson. The Board of Curators, appointed by Missouri’s governor, are in charge of the university. Of its many departments, the university has an Early Childhood Education program, launched in 1954. Its mission is to prepare quality teachers with a lifelong commitment to teaching children and to enhancing the community through academic excellence, diversity, social justice, problem-solving, leadership, etc.

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; Masters & Post-grad Certificate
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelors
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelors
    • Reading Teacher Education; Masters & Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; Masters

    Accreditation By:

    • The Higher Learning Commission
    • Council for Higher Education Accreditation

Missouri Preschool Teacher Careers Options

Public Schools –
Public school is free education in Missouri under the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. At least 1,000 children are on the waiting list for the public pre-K program in Missouri and the program is underfunded.

Private Childcare –
Childcare in Missouri for preschool aged children have standards regulated by The Missouri Department of Social Services that providers must follow.

Private Schools –
There are over 427 Missouri private schools for preschool aged children. These schools serve over 75,000 children. Private schools range from faith-based to non-religious but most private schools charge a tuition fee.

Head Start Programs –
The Missouri Head Start Association runs Missouri’s Head Start program. It is an educational program for low-income children, birth to five.

Community Based Programs –
Individuals and organizations at a local level are the foundation of community-based programs. An example of a community-based program that serves children is the Heart of Missouri United Way’s educational offerings.

Faith Based Programs –
These are programs in Missouri that have a religious focus for preschool aged children. The majority of these programs are Christian-based. Some require tuition, while others do not.

Military Programs –
Military programs are offered nationally to active members of the military from Missouri and across the nation, these include childcare, education, etc.

Early Childhood Education Teaching Salaries in Missouri

OccupationEntry-LevelMid-CareerLate-Career
Preschool Teacher$23,700$21,800$23,400
Elementary School Teacher$35,900$35,000$55,900
School Principal$73,400$79,100$86,600
Special Education Teacher$39,800$44,300$50,400
School Psychologist$54,100$61,000$73,200

Videos To Help You Find The Right Career Choices

  • What Makes Great Teachers Great?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXaLGt460e4

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  • How to Teach Kindergarten

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  • Part 1 - High-Quality Kindergarten Today - Background

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  • Special Education K-2 Teacher

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  • Why Special Education?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3YwKIqlCsw

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