The state should close loopholes that allow teachers who have not met licensure requirements to continue teaching. This goal was reorganized in 2021.
Emergency License(s) Availability: Tennessee offers endorsement exceptions at the request of the director of schools for a licensed educator to teach out-of-field. The endorsement exception may not be used to teach subjects for which there is a state-level end-of-course examination. The following are taken under consideration by the commissioner when conferring an endorsement exception: previous work experiences, coursework and degrees held, and educator's previous work in the subject area.
The state also issues permits to an unlicensed applicant if the director of schools and local commissioner verify that they are unable to secure a qualified teacher for a specific vacancy. The applicant must have a bachelor's degree and the applicant's previous work experience, coursework and degrees held, and relevant experience in the subject area are taken into consideration. The permit cannot be issued for a subject area that requires a state-level end of course examination.
It is worth noting that, in general, Tennessee's initial license (the Practitioner License) requires admission to or completion of a preparation program, a bachelor's degree, and passage of all required content and pedagogy tests. Candidates with a bachelor's degree in a core content area can delay passage of licensure tests for up to three years.
Emergency License(s) Validity Period: The endorsement exception and the permit are valid for the academic year for which they were issued and may be renewed twice. The permit may only be renewed if the director of schools and chair of the local LEA certify that they were unable to find a licensed teacher for the position.
COVID-19 State Policy: Tennessee has implemented the following changes to its rules regarding Provisional and Emergency Licensure. The state will issue a one-year provisional practitioner license to candidates who complete a program through summer 2020 and are unable to take licensure assessments. The provisional license is valid through August 31, 2021. COVID-19 policies do not affect the state's grade in Provisional and Emergency Licensure.
Requirements for Out-of-State Teachers: Because licensure requirements for out-of-state teachers are scored in Requirements for Out-of-State Teachers, only the state's policies regarding emergency/provisional license(s) are considered as part of this goal.
State Board of Education LIcensure Policy 5.502 Tennessee Rule 0520-02-03 Tennessee Code Annotated 49-5-106 COVID-19 Information: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/education/health-&-safety/Licensure%20and%20Preparation%20SBE%20Updates%20COVID19_Final.pdf
Ensure that all teachers pass required subject-matter licensing tests before they enter the classroom.
All students are entitled to teachers who know the subject matter they are teaching. Permitting individuals who have not yet passed state licensing tests to teach neglects the needs of students, because it enables adults who may not be able to meet minimal state standards to earn teaching licenses. Tennessee should ensure that all teachers are required to pass licensing tests — an important minimum benchmark for entering the profession —before entering the classroom as the teacher of record.
Limit exceptions to one year.
Although suboptimal, there may be limited and exceptional circumstances under which conditional or emergency licenses are necessary. In these instances, it is reasonable for a state to give teachers up to one year to pass required licensing tests. Tennessee's current policy puts students at risk by allowing teachers to teach on emergency certificates for three years without passing required subject-matter licensing tests.
Tennessee noted that candidates may also enroll in a job-embedded program by having a major in the content area. According to the state, these candidates are required to submit qualifying scores on the required pedagogical assessment in order to maintain licensure (i.e., they have 3 years) as their pedagogical training happens concurrently with employment.
6B: Provisional and Emergency Licensure
Teachers who have not passed content licensing tests place students at risk. While states may need a regulatory basis for filling classroom positions with a few people who do not hold full teaching credentials, many of the regulations permitting this put the instructional needs of children at risk, often year after year. For example, schools can make liberal use of provisional certificates or waivers provided by the state if they fill classroom positions with instructors who have completed a teacher preparation program but have not passed their state licensing tests. These allowances are permitted for up to three years in some states. The unfortunate consequence is that students' needs are neglected in an effort to extend personal consideration to adults who cannot meet minimum state standards.
While some flexibility may be necessary because licensing tests are not always administered with the needed frequency, making provisional certificates and waivers available year after year could signal that the state does not put much value on its licensing standards or what they represent. States accordingly need to ensure that all persons given full charge of children's learning are required to pass the relevant licensing tests in their first year of teaching, ideally before they enter the classroom. Licensing tests are an important minimum benchmark in the profession, and states that allow teachers to postpone passing these tests are abandoning one of the basic responsibilities of licensure.