Early Childhood Teacher Certification in Tennessee

All About Early Childhood Education in Tennessee

Tennessee, the home to the Grand Ole Opry and Davey Crockett, has a rich history and is known for its country music scene.

The average salary for teachers in 2012 was $47,740, in the mid-range compared to other states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In many states, budget cuts have required cut-backs in educational spending. However, in Tennessee there has been an increase in per-student spending. The Race to the Top grant supports Tennessee’s First to the Top initiative, continually showing improvements in teaching and learning. Tennessee is also investing in schools which include the development of new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.

Tennessee’s pre-K program, funded by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, benefits over 18,000 children in in more than 925 state-funded classrooms. With an investment of over $85 million per year, Tennessee was ranked as having a high-quality pre-K program in 2012 by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

All eligible school districts in Tennessee can take part in voluntary, state-funded pre-K classes. The Voluntary Pre-K for Tennessee Initiative helps Tennessee’s four-year-old children develop school readiness skills, with top priority given to at-risk four-year-olds. A study conducted at the Peabody Research Institute at Vanderbilt University finds that the program is significantly boosting early literacy, language, and math skills.

Tennessee Teacher Certification

The Tennessee Department of Education’s (TDOE) website has information about how to get certification. The Office of Teacher Licensing in the state of Tennessee oversees requirements for teacher licensing, including applications for new licenses and an online system for administrators and teachers to update their licenses.

You can become a licensed teacher if you:

There is no fee to apply for a license in Tennessee. However, you will need to submit an application form, a college verification form, an official student transcript, a report on experience, and a photocopy of your out-of-state license(s). You must complete a program at an approved educator preparation institution, take the Praxis series exams, and be recommended for licensure by the Dean of Education and the Certification Office of your college or university.

Contact your chosen school’s human resources office or the TDOE’s human resources department if you have questions about the certification/licensure process.


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ECE Degree Programs in Tennessee

Here are three colleges that offer early childhood or elementary education degrees in Tennessee:

has early childhood teacher licensure programs and graduate programs for teachers and administrators. The teacher licensure programs are offered at both undergraduate and graduate levels for those who want to teach in prekindergarten, kindergarten and primary grades. The graduate programs include the master’s and doctorate in early childhood education (birth through age eight).

offers a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education (pre-K through three) and a master’s degree in elementary education. The school is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

offers a bachelor’s degree with majors in early childhood education (pre-K through three) and elementary education (pre-K through six), a fifth-year master’s degree program in elementary education, and a master’s degree with an initial teacher licensure program for students who are seeking their first license or upgrading their knowledge and skills. Other programs lead to teacher licensure in early childhood and elementary education.

Looking for Teacher Jobs in Tennessee

The state has a number of programs to help professionals embarking on teaching careers. The Teach TN program offers residents career expertise to transition into math, science or foreign language teaching jobs, and the Troops to Teachers program provides opportunities for military personnel to transition into teaching.

Public schools employ the majority of individuals looking for careers in early childhood education. Tennessee Teacher Employment Resource is a database of searchable jobs with available positions in pre-K through 12.

Other employers include Head Start, Bright Horizons, Montessori schools and private schools. Many child care centers in your community may be in need of teachers and assistant teachers. GreatSchools.org can help you to find preschools and elementary schools in your local area.

Tennessee’s Professional Groups for Teachers

Tennessee has two teachers’ unions:

  • The Tennessee Education Association (TEA), the state’s largest professional organization, represents over 46,000 education professionals and students who are preparing to become teachers. TEA has affiliates in every school district in Tennessee, and is affiliated with the Tennessee Retired Teachers Association (TRTA). TEA also sponsors the Student TEA program and is affiliated with the National Education Association.
  • The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is a trade union representing workers in education, public service and health care. It has more than one million members nationwide, with one affiliate in Tennessee.

There are other teacher support groups, as well. The Tennessee Association for the Education of Young Children (TAEYC) provides its members with professional development opportunities and supports child education. Members can network with professionals in early childhood education. TAEYC is also an affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

The Appalachian Association for the Education of Young Children (AAEYC) is an affiliate of TAEYC and also works for the welfare of young children and their families.

Professional Educators of Tennessee (PET) is a statewide professional organization offering its members professional development, legislative advocacy, and legal protection. They provide high-quality professional learning for pre-service, novice and career educators. Dues are $165 per year.


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Early Childhood Education Blogs in Tennessee

Scott’s Bricks uses the metaphor of bricks and building to help provide a learning for children. The blog is full of activities to do with young children, as well as many links to other blogs.

Swamp Frog First Graders has resources and activities for teachers of any grade, but especially focusing on first grade.

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