How to Become a Special Education Teacher in Tennessee

In the state of Tennessee, persons who are interested in being special education teachers can become licensed by meeting the academic and testing criteria required by the Tennessee Department of Education. Schools offering Emotional & Behavioral Disorders degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Special Education Teacher Licensure Requirements in Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Education issues an initial license to first-time educators who have completed an approved educator preparation program. This is known as a Practitioner Teacher License and the general requirements for earning this license are summarized in the table below.

Education/Experience Required Bachelor's degree
Exam Requirements edTPA
Praxis
Certification Renewal Period Three years
Requirements for Renewal 60 professional development points
Mean Salary (2018)$48,000 (preschool special education teachers in TN)
$52,350 (kindergarten and elementary special education teachers in TN)
$52,410 (middle school special education teachers in TN)
$54,010 (high school special education teachers in TN)*
Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026) 8% (special education teachers nationally)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

General Academic Requirements

In order to earn a Practitioner Teacher License, the candidate must earn a bachelor's degree and have either completed, or be enrolled in an approved educator preparation program, with an accredited college or university, that is focused on an area of special education. The Tennessee Department of Education recognizes the following special education areas:

  • Special Education Comprehensive Program K-12
  • Special Education Hearing pre-K-12
  • Special Education Interventionist 6-12
  • Special Education Interventionist K-8
  • Special Education Preschool/Early Childhood pre-K-3
  • Special Education Vision pre-K-12

Testing Requirements

As of January 2019, prospective educators in Tennessee must complete an edTPA subject-specific content assessment in order to qualify for initial licensure. For a special education teacher, the candidate would need to pass the edTPA assessment relevant to one of the special education areas recognized by the Tennessee Department of Education. While not required for licensure, the candidate will be required to pass the Praxis Core Academic Assessments in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics as part of the educator preparation program. Since it's a specialty area, the candidate would also need to pass the Praxis Special Education assessment that corresponds to the grade level or special education level they would like to teach.

Application Process

To initiate the application process for a Practitioner Teacher License, the candidate must receive a recommendation from the college or university that provided the educator preparation program. Once this recommendation is received, the candidate can complete the application process through the TNCompass educator online portal that is available through the Tennessee Department of Education website. While the candidate's assessment scores should have been added to their educator profile, the candidate should ensure this is the case before applying. Official transcripts can be submitted by the college or university to Educator.Licensure@tn.gov and sent by mail to:

710 James Robertson Parkway,

12th Floor, Nashville,

TN 37243

License Information

The Practitioner Teacher License is valid for three years and can be renewed only once. For that renewal, the educator must complete 60 approved professional development points from approved professional development activities. After that first renewal, the educator must either meet the requirements to advance to a six-year Professional Teacher License or lose their license. The requirements for advancement are 30 professional development points and three years of teaching experience.

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