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The Tennessee Department of Education, Office of Teacher Licensing is responsible for Tennessee teacher certification. Tennessee offers educator licenses for teachers, administrators and professional school service personnel. This article will focus on the licensing requirements necessary to teach in an elementary or secondary school in the State of Tennessee.
Tennessee offers a two-level licensing structure for teacher licenses. At the initial licensing level, Tennessee issues two different licenses:
- Apprentice Teacher License – This is a renewable license that is valid for three to five years. It is issued to individuals who have completed an approved in-state teacher preparation program and meet the requirements for initial licensing. The holder of this license has five years to complete three years of successful public or state-accredited, non-public school experience, at which point the license is no longer valid. At that point, the employing school system must submit evidence of positive local evaluation for the license holder to advance to the next level. If the holder does not have three years of experience within five years, the license may be renewed for subsequent five year periods, provided that the renewal requirements are met.
- Out-of-State Teacher License – This license is for individuals that complete their licensure requirements in another state. This is a renewable license that is valid for three to five years. The holder of this license has five years to complete three years of successful public or state-accredited, non-public school experience, at which point the license is no longer valid. At that point, the employing school system must submit evidence of positive local evaluation for the license holder to advance to the next level. If the holder does not have three years of experience within five years, the license may be renewed for subsequent five year periods, provided that the renewal requirements are met.
The Professional License is the highest level of Tennessee Teacher license. It is valid for ten years.
Tennessee also offers an Interim License Type B intended for individuals who meet all licensing requirements except passing the necessary PRAXIS exams. It is requested by the employing school district and is valid for one school year. An individual may not be issued an Interim License Type B more than two times.
Alternative licenses (Alternative License Type A, Alternative License Type C, and Alternative License Type E) are also available for individuals participating in alternative education programs. Alternative licenses Type A and E are valid for one school year and may be renewed for two additional years at the request of the employing school district. The Alternative License Type C is valid for the term of an Alternative C licensure program.
Tennessee also offers Occupational Education licenses in Health Science, or Trade and Industry. They are offered at both the Apprentice and Professional levels and have the same validity periods as the teacher licenses.
The Process for Tennessee Teacher Certification
The process to obtain an Apprentice Teacher License is relatively straightforward. To obtain such a license, an individual must:
- Have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Complete an approved education preparation program from a Tennessee college or university. An individual may also graduate from an out-of-state program. Such individuals would receive an Out-of-State License instead of an Apprentice License.
- Receive a recommendation from the preparing college or university.
- Meet all of Tennessee’s PRAXIS testing requirements.
To advance from an Apprentice Teaching License to a Professional Teaching License, an individual must:
- Hold a valid Apprentice Teaching License.
- Be currently employed as a teacher and have three years of verified teaching experience.
- Be evaluated by an administrator who has completed the “Framework for Evaluation and Professional Growth” training.
Individuals may also obtain endorsements for their licenses by completing the necessary coursework and testing requirements.
Certification for Teachers Certified in Other States
Individuals who hold valid out-of-state teaching certificates may be eligible for Tennessee Teacher Licenses. Individuals who were fully certified in another state prior to July 1, 1984 may be exempt from Tennessee’s testing requirements. Individuals with a valid license from another state may also be exempt from the testing requirements. Out-of-state certified teachers should file an application for an Out-of-State Teacher License with the necessary supporting documentation.
Tennessee Certificate Renewal
Apprentice and Out-of-State Teacher Licenses may be renewed for five years if the holder has not completed three years of teaching experience and received a positive local evaluation. An Apprentice or Out-of-State License based on a Bachelor’s degree may be renewed by the holder earning 45 renewal points. The same licenses based on a Master’s degree or higher may also be renewed by earning 45 renewal points if the license holder has less than three years of experience. If the Master’s Degree license holder has more than three years of experience, than no renewal points are necessary for renewal.
Professional Teacher Licenses must be renewed every ten years. Individuals holding such a license based on a Bachelor’s degree, or a Master’s Degree or higher with less than five years of experience, are required to complete 90 renewal points to renew their license. There are no renewal credit requirements for license holders with a Masters degree or higher with five or more years of experience.
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