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Alternative Teacher Certification in Tennessee

If you'd like to help fill vacant roles at a needy school district, or if you'd like to consider a career change, this article can help. Below you'll find all of the steps required to earn alternative teaching licensure in Tennessee.

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In Tennessee, school districts that are lacking teachers in certain areas can offer alternative licensure to fill these roles. However, once in the position as a teacher, the alternative license holder must complete all steps to become a licensed professional teacher. For more on this, check out the steps below.

Requirements for Alternative Teachers in Tennessee

Average Salary for Teachers in Tennessee (2017)* $30,280 (Preschool)
$48,540 (Kindergarten)
$50,320 (Elementary School)
$50,060 (Middle School)
$51,390 (Secondary School)
Required Degree Bachelor's Degree
Required Field Any
Testing Requirements* Core Academic Skills for Educators exams (Math, reading, and writing)
Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) exam
Content knowledge exam(s)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete Your Education

With an alternative path to licensing, you'll likely have completed your education in another subject area. What was that? No matter what it was, you'll need to continue your education at the next level. This is because you need a completed educator preparation program (EPP), which will include 15 weeks of student teaching. Since your bachelor's degree likely didn't include any of the EPP requirements for licensure, you'll need to look into a master's degree program or certificate program to fulfill these requirements, which will include teaching theories, classroom management, and of course, the student teaching capstone.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Teacher Education, Multiple Levels
  • Teaching, Adults
  • Teaching, Elementary
  • Teaching, High School
  • Teaching, Junior High
  • Teaching, Kindergarten and Preschool
  • Teaching, Waldorf and Steiner Education
  • Teaching, Young Children

Step 2: Complete Exam Requirements

All teachers must prove their basic knowledge in math, reading, and writing. As an alternative path teacher, it could be even more essential to prove you are aware of these core subjects. To prove this, you will sit for the 3-test Core Academic Skills for Educators assessment. The math and reading exam both include 56 multiple-choice questions, while the writing exam has 40 multiple-choice questions and two essays. To pass, you'll need to score at least 150 on the math portion, 160 on the reading portion, and 162 on the writing portion.

The next set of exams you'll look at are the PLT, or Principles of Learning and Teaching, exams. There are four of these and they all are set up with 70 multiple-choice questions and four case study responses. You'll be given two hours to complete the exam, so it just depends on what grade level you'd like to teach. The following is a table that expresses the minimum scores you'll need for each exam.

Grade Level Minimum Score
Early Childhood 157
K-6 160
5-9 160
7-12 157

Of course, the area your original education was in or what subject you'd like to teach helps you to decide what you will be endorsed in. There are several content knowledge exams given by Praxis for all grade levels. The elementary education exam will require you to have comprehensive knowledge of core subjects, but middle and secondary school endorsements are subject-specific. Some endorsements, such as PE and art, will endorse you for all grade levels. All of these tests are set up differently and require minimum scores to pass.

Step 3: Get Fingerprinted

All teachers who work in Tennessee must have a background check run on them. If you are applying for initial licensure, you'll need to pay the fingerprinting and background fees on the identogo website. You will also set up a fingerprinting appointment. When you go, be sure to take the confirmation page and a valid form of identification with you. After you have had your fingerprints digitally taken, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) will run your check.

Tennessee Special Education Teacher Certification Resources

Alternative licensed teachers still need to meet the requirements for testing that traditional licensed teachers must. Here, we'll look at some resources to help you prepare for those exams.

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