The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education(DESE) launched the Teach Arkansas Campaign in February 2018. As part of the campaign, the DESE works to provide resources and opportunities for teachers. As a way to bolster the teacher pipeline, on September 1, 2018, the DESE implemented a test fee reimbursement initiative for teachers adding endorsements to their Arkansas license for chronically critical academic shortage areas. The DESE provides a one (1)-time reimbursement for all assessments associated with each chronically critical academic shortage area. Pursuant to A.C.A. § 6-81-601 et seq. and A.C.A. § 6-85-109, the DESE designates critical academic shortage areas each year. Those areas that have been on the list for the last four (4) years will be the basis for test reimbursement applications for September 1, 2019 – August 31, 2020:
- Art (K-12)
- Chemistry (7-12)
- Computer Science (4-12)
- Family and Consumer Sciences (7-12)
- Library Media Specialist (K-12)
- Mathematics (7-12)
- Physics (7-12)
- Spanish (K-12)
- Special Education (all areas)
A test taker who passes the licensure assessment(s) may be eligible for a one-time assessment fee reimbursement by the DESE. Eligibility requirements include:
- Currently teaching in an Arkansas public or charter school,
- Completing all coursework requirements for the licensure area (if applicable),
- Achieving a passing score on the required assessments(s), and
- Providing proof the endorsement was added to a standard Arkansas License.
Reimbursements are processed on an as-received basis and are subject to funding availability.
Information on the licensure assessments is available on the DESE’s Licensure Assessment website. The Licensure Assessment Fee Reimbursement Form is available as a link under “Related Files”.
In addition to the DESE fee reimbursement initiative, teachers needing additional coursework for the endorsements may be eligible for financial incentives through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. The Teacher Opportunity Program (TOP) offers tuition reimbursement grants to Arkansas teachers and administrators. Teachers and administrators may apply for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses paid for up to six (6) college credit hours completed for each academic year, not to exceed $3000. If necessary, licensed teachers taking courses that apply toward an additional license in a subject matter declared a shortage area by the DESE will receive first priority. This tuition reimbursement can be used for those licensure areas that are exception areas and require coursework. Refer to Appendix A of the Educator Licensure Rules to determine if shortage area requires coursework.