Licensure Changes (September 2015)

The purpose of educator licensure is to ensure that individuals who serve in Tennessee classrooms and schools meet minimum standards. In order to earn, advance or renew a license to teach in the State of Tennessee, an individual must meet stated expectations.

On July 25, 2014, the Tennessee State Board of Education approved a new policy regarding educator licensure. Educators affected by this policy include  Teachers, School Services Personnel, and Occupational Teachers.  Any license issued prior to September 1, 2015 will be valid until the date of expiration. After August 31, 2015, all licensure transactions will be processed in accordance with the new policy.

Overview of New Licensure Policy

New License Types

Practitioner Licenses (3-year validity period, renewable -once): The practitioner license is the initial license issued to educators entering Tennessee public schools. 

Professional Licenses (6-year validity period, renewable): The professional license is issued to educators who have met requirements for advancement from the practitioner license.

Initial Issuance of the Practitioner License

There are three types of practitioner licenses: Practitioner Teacher, Practitioner School Services Personnel, and Practitioner Occupational Teacher.

Individuals applying for the practitioner license must meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Be enrolled in or have completed a state-approved educator preparation program
  • Be recommended by the state-approved educator preparation program; AND
  • Have submitted qualifying scores on required assessments
     – OR –
  • Have content knowledge verified by a program in which a candidate is enrolled or has completed, based on content major.

If an educator does not complete an approved educator preparation program and pass all required assessments before the expiration date of the initial practitioner license, the practitioner license cannot be renewed or advanced. Educators who complete preparation and pass required assessments, but do not meet additional criteria for advancement to the professional license (e.g., experience, renewal points), may renew the practitioner license once.

Advancing to a Professional License

In addition to completing an educator preparation program and submitting qualifying scores on all required assessments, an educator must provide evidence of the following to advance to the professional license:

  • Three years of experience, AND
  • The recommendation of the Director of Schools,
  • Documentation of 30 professional development points (PDPs)

If an educator has successfully completed an approved preparation program and submitted qualifying scores on all required assessments, but has not met the remaining requirements for advancement, the practitioner license may be renewed once.  If an educator does not meet advancement requirements at the end of the second validity period of the practitioner license, the license will become inactive.

Renewing a Professional License

To renew the professional license, an educator must have documentation of 60 professional development points. At the date of expiration, if an educator does not have documentation of 60 professional development points, the license will become inactive.

Reactivating an Inactive License

To reactivate an inactive license, an educator must ensure that the Office of Educator Licensing (OEL) has received qualifying scores (not more than 5 years old) on all -required content assessments for each endorsement an educator is seeking to reactivate). If the OEL has valid assessment scores (not more than 5 years old) on file, the educator does not need to submit new scores.

Occupational License – Additional Requirements

In most cases, proof of current industry certification is an additional requirement for the Occupational License. Educators seeking an occupational license must adhere to the following:

  • Prior to enrollment in a preparation program, qualifications, such as industry certification, shall be reviewed by the TDOE staff. 
  • The teacher may advance to the professional occupational education license provided that he/she has completed the following requirements:
  • Attendance during the first year of teaching for a total of five (5) days at new teacher training sponsored by Career & Technical Education Division, Department of Education.
  • Four (4) days release time to observe three (3) experienced teachers within their endorsed teaching area and one (1) experienced teacher outside of their teaching area.
  • Assigned teacher mentor during the first three (3) years of teaching.

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Approved by the State Board of Education


The policies described on this page do not go into effect until September 1, 2015.

Questions or Comments?

If you can't find the information you are seeking about redesigned licenure policy, or if you have general comments you would like to share with the department, please send an email to one of the following addresses:

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Last Update: May 6, 2015