Special Education Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should distinguish between the preparation of elementary and secondary special education teachers. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Commendably, Tennessee does not offer a K-12 mild to moderate special education license. Tennessee offers special education interventionist endorsements for either the K-8 or 6-12 grade levels. The state also offers a PreK-3
special education license.
Tennessee State Board Policy 5.502
Due to Tennessee's strong policies in this area, no recommendations are provided.
Tennessee indicated that it does offer a K-12 comprehensive special education endorsement. According to the state, this endorsement is most appropriate for educators working with students for whom the least restrictive environment is a self-contained classroom and for students who are not most appropriately served in a general education setting.
4C: Special Education Licensure Deficiencies
Generic K-12 special education licenses are inappropriate for teachers of high-incidence special education students.
Too many states make no distinction between elementary and secondary special education teachers, certifying all such teachers under a generic K-12 special education license. While this broad umbrella may be appropriate for teachers of low-incidence special education students, such as those with severe cognitive disabilities, it is deeply problematic for high-incidence special education students, who are expected to learn grade-level content. And because the overwhelming majority of special education students are in the high-incidence category, the result is a fundamentally broken system.
It is virtually impossible and certainly impractical for states to ensure that a K-12 teacher knows all the subject matter he or she is expected to teach. Further, the issue is just as valid in terms of pedagogical knowledge. Teacher preparation and licensure for special education teachers must distinguish between elementary and secondary levels, as they do for general education. The current model does little to protect some of our most vulnerable students.