How to Become a Preschool Teacher in Tennessee

Aspiring preschool teachers in Tennessee must satisfy a number of education and testing requirements to qualify for teaching licensure. Once initial licensure has been achieved, candidates can then begin to apply for preschool teacher positions in the state.

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Preschool teachers have the important role of being a child's first learning guide in a structured educational environment. This environment requires teachers to display the utmost care and sensitivity so that their young students can quickly feel comfortable within controlled learning environments. To become a licensed preschool teacher in Tennessee, candidates must obtain an endorsement in early childhood education (PreK-3). The steps that need to be followed to achieve this are set out below.

Preschool Teaching Certification Requirements in Tennessee

Average Salary for Preschool Teachers in Tennessee (2017)* $30,280
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Education
Testing Requirements Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core), Principles of Learning and Teaching (Pedagogy - Early Childhood 5621), Praxis subject area tests (Early Childhood Education)

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Degree

Prospective preschool teachers in Tennessee who want to earn a license must first acquire a bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited college or university. The degree must incorporate an early childhood education educator preparation program approved by the Tennessee State Board of Education.

Existing holders of a Tennessee teaching license, who wish to teach preschool, can enroll in one of the number of approved early childhood education 'add-on' programs which are available in the state. These programs typically require candidates to complete 20-30 semester hours of PreK-3 coursework.

Step 2: Pass all Required Testing

Preschool teacher candidates in Tennessee must pass a number of tests administered by ETS. These tests consist of basic skills, pedagogy, and early childhood education assessments:

  • Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators - basic skills
  • Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) - pedagogy
  • Praxis subject area tests - early childhood education

In particular, the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam must be passed to gain entry into an approved educator preparation program. The exam consists of three sub-tests which may be taken on the same day or separately:

  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading (code: 5712, minimum pass score - 156)
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing (code: 5722, minimum pass score - 162)
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics (code: 5732, minimum pass score - 150)

Next, the PLT test is a pedagogy exam and is generally taken at around the time of graduation from an approved educator preparation program. There are four versions of this exam depending upon which grade levels a candidate wants to teach. Preschool teacher candidates should take the following PLT test:

  • Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood (code: 5621, minimum pass score - 157)

Preschool teacher candidates also need to take three Praxis subject area tests which are as follows:

  • Education of Young Children (code: 5024, minimum pass score - 160)
  • Elementary Education: Content Knowledge (code: 5018, minimum pass score 163)
  • Teaching Reading: Elementary Education (code: 5203, minimum pass score 162)

Step 3: Apply for an Initial Teaching License with Endorsement

When all of the education and testing requirements have been successfully completed, candidates can apply for their initial Tennessee teaching license. The application must be submitted electronically by the candidate's approved Educator Preparation Provider through the online application system called, 'TNCompass':

  • Candidates must mark that they wish to apply for an initial license, which in Tennessee is known as an Apprentice License, and allows holders to apply for teaching jobs in the state.
  • Candidates who are looking to add an endorsement to their existing license, should mark, 'Amendment to Add Endorsement Area', and indicate that they want to add early childhood education as an endorsement.

Proof of ETS test scores and official college/university transcripts should be submitted with the licensure application.

Preschool Teacher Certification Resources

Follow the links below to access our resources for helping preschool teacher candidates study for their Tennessee licensure exams:

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