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Tennessee: Teacher Credentialing in Tennessee

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Tennessee was in 31st place in 2005 for teacher salaries at $42,072. While the rest of the country was struggling to keep up with inflation, the citizens of Tennessee have remained committed to education with their support of increases in teacher salaries. Between 2004 and 2005, teacher salaries in Tennessee rose 4.2 percent, almost double the inflation rate in the state.

While salaries and the low cost of living are good reasons to begin your teaching career in Tennessee, so is the public support of the public education system combined with career mobility. This support of education comes with an increased demand for progress, and the state of Tennessee compensates its teachers handsomely for obtaining advanced educational degrees and continuing to work toward becoming the best they can be as highly qualified teachers.

While certification requirements differ among the states, all of them require at least a bachelor's degree. Some states also have requirements for undergraduate coursework to obtain certification in some specialty areas, but Tennessee has no requirements for any undergraduate studies after initial certification.

Before a teacher can become certified in Tennessee, he or she must complete an accredited program of teacher education. Individuals who have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university but the degree is not in education and those who have not yet earned a teaching certificate may obtain their certification by meeting the requirements for the alternative certification.

The typical teacher education program includes a combination of fieldwork and curricula. The curricula portion usually includes instructions for foundational knowledge and skills, instructions in the art and science of teaching, preparing students to conduct research, design, and put those things they have learned to practical use within their field of study. The fieldwork portion of the teacher education may include observations in the field, student teach, or an internship.

The state of Tennessee requires all applicants for certification to complete a Basic Skill Test and any competency assessments that are required within the areas of instruction in which you desire to teach. The Basic Skills Test is comprised of the PPST (Pre-Professional Skills Test). The subject area competence involves the Praxis II areas of subject area competence and the Principles of Learning and Teaching.

Becoming certified as a teacher in Tennessee comes with a wide range of benefits that include but are not limited to the following:

  • There are incentives to encourage new teachers to teach in schools with high needs or have a shortage of teachers in some critical subject areas. The state provides differential pay support to those teachers who are willing to teach in those high needs schools or in those areas with teacher shortages.
  • There are policies in effect to provide for clearer and more effective training; however, current policies are weak and limited.
  • The average salary for a certified teacher in Tennessee is $42,780 for elementary school and $53,960 for secondary schools.
  • The average teacher in Tennessee makes 130 percent of the salary of an average worker in Tennessee.

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