Certification Requirements to Become a Math Teacher in Tennessee

Whether you already have a degree in math and need to become certified, or are just getting started on the education process, use this guide to learn how to become a math teacher in Tennessee:

Complete a Degree Program Designed for Teaching Math
Complete the Tennessee Math Teacher Testing Requirements
Apply for a License to Teach Math in Tennessee
Renew and Upgrade Your License to Teach Math in Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Education holds its math teachers to high standards. It does this for good reason, as mathematics has been identified as key to the state’s success in fields related to technology, science, and engineering.

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Candidates interested in becoming licensed math teachers in Tennessee will need to complete an extensive preparation process that starts with at least a bachelor’s degree and culminates in an initial license for teaching math students in grades 7-12.



Step 1. Complete a Degree Program Designed for Teaching Math

If you are contemplating college for the first time, you will find the most efficient way to become a licensed math teacher is by completing a bachelor’s degree that includes a teaching program. These combined math/teacher prep programs are designed to fulfill all requirements for licensure in Tennessee. Subjects you will study as part of your math degree include:

  • Advanced algebra
  • Geometry and trigonometry
  • Linear algebra
  • Statistics and probability
  • Discrete mathematics
  • Calculus
  • Number theory

After completing the mathematics requirements of your major, you will transition to the math educator component of the program.

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To be eligible to begin this component of the program you will need to complete a series of tests known as the Core Academic Skills for Educator series, discussed below in Step 2.

The educator preparation program will focus on pedagogy and the most effective strategies for teaching mathematics. It will also include a student teaching segment that is designed to help you implement what you have been learning in the classroom in a real-life environment. This will involve being paired with an experienced and supportive mathematics teacher who will provide you with constructive feedback on your lesson plans and teaching style.

Alternatives to a Mathematics Teaching Degree

You may also be in the situation where you already have at least a bachelor’s degree in a math-related field but have not completed a mathematics educator preparation program. In this situation you may be eligible for a temporary transitional license that is valid for up to three years while you complete a state-approved mathematics educator preparation program. These programs can be:

  • Traditional educator preparation programs taken as post-graduate or a master’s degree course of study
  • Alternative educator preparation programs that place you with a mentor, involve an intensive pedagogy segment, and include on-the-job teacher training. These types of programs include:

Out-of-State Math Teachers

If you are already a certified math teacher in a different state then you will need to indicate that you are applying for an Out-of-State License when you fill out your application in Step 4. This will involve submitting the transcripts and testing scores you originally submitted to your home state’s licensing agency.

As a certified teacher in another state, you should have no problems becoming licensed in Tennessee as the state has a reciprocity agreement with every state in the nation.

To be eligible for reciprocity you must have at least three years of math teaching experience.



Step 2. Complete the Tennessee Math Teacher Testing Requirements

To become a math teacher in Tennessee you will need to complete three different tests, all managed by Educational Testing Service (ETS):

  • Core Academic Skills for Educators
  • Principles of Learning and Teaching
  • Praxis II Mathematics: Content Knowledge

Core Academic Skills for Educators

This exam consists of three sub-parts that may be taken separately or together at the same time. Passing the Core exam is required before you can enter into a traditional educator preparation program in mathematics. This test evaluates your understanding of the essential, basic subjects you must know to be an effective teacher:

Principles of Learning and Teaching

This exam ensures that you have adequate pedagogical skills and understanding to be an effective teacher. It only evaluates your understanding of teaching and does not specifically involve mathematics. There are several versions of the Principles of Learning and Teaching exam that are based on the grade-level of the students being taught. Since math teacher certification in Tennessee covers grades 7-12, you will take:

This exam is comprised of 70 multiple-choice and four constructed-response questions, for which you will have two hours to complete. You may also find consulting a study guide to be helpful as you prepare to answer questions regarding the following subjects:

  • Student learning – student development, diversity, motivation, and learning environment
  • Process of instruction – planning, strategies, questioning, communication
  • Assessments – assessment strategies and tools
  • Leadership, community, and professional development
  • Analysis of scenarios stemming from these subjects

Praxis II Mathematics: Content Knowledge

The Praxis II Mathematics: Content Knowledge exam will assess you on your specific knowledge in the field of mathematics. ETS also offers a study guide to help you prepare for this, which is comprised of 60 questions for which you will have 150 minutes to complete. Questions on this exam will be taken from the following subject areas:

  • Number and quantity
  • Functions
  • Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Probability and statistics
  • Discrete mathematics
  • Geometry



Step 3. Apply for a License to Teach Math in Tennessee

Thus far you will have completed all the requirements for math teacher certification in Tennessee and should be ready for a teaching license. The first license you apply for is known as an Apprentice License and is valid for five years.

You will need to submit the following along with an Application for an Initial Apprentice License:

  • Transcripts from your mathematics bachelor’s degree and educator preparation program
  • ETS exam results

Note that your employing school must apply and submit this application on your behalf. Once you have been successfully licensed you will have five years to complete the required renewal points. However if you perform well in the first three years as a licensed math teacher you may be eligible to upgrade your Initial License.



Step 4. Renew and Upgrade Your License to Teach Math in Tennessee

There are two levels of teaching licenses in Tennessee: Apprentice and Professional. You can upgrade from an Apprentice to a Professional License after three years. To renew either of these licenses, you will need to earn an adequate number of renewal points.

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Local Evaluation – Upgrading from an Apprentice to a Professional License

You are eligible to upgrade your Apprentice License to a Professional License after you have taught for three years and have had a positive local evaluation. A local evaluation is conducted by a high ranking official at your school and will score your teaching performance and abilities on a range from Significantly Above Expectations to Significantly Below Expectations. Your evaluator will observe you between one and five times as you are teaching your students math in the classroom. You will be evaluated in three areas of performance:

  • Classroom instruction
  • Lesson planning
  • Educational environment

Renewing an Apprentice or Professional License

An Apprentice License is valid for five years, while a Professional License is valid for ten years. To renew these you will need to complete the specified number of renewal points, the amount of which depends on your highest level of education:

    • Bachelor’s Degree:
      • Apprentice – 45 renewal points
      • Professional – 90 renewal points


    • Master’s Degree or higher without a positive local evaluation:
      • Apprentice – 45 renewal points
      • Professional – 90 renewal points


  • Master’s Degree or higher with a positive evaluation:
    • Apprentice – no points required
    • Professional – no points required

Renewal points should be consistent with the goals of the math teacher and the system of education as a whole, and can be earned in a number of ways such as:

  • Completion of college coursework related to teaching or mathematics
  • Participation in professional development activities
  • Working with student teachers
  • Working as a mentor to new math teachers

If you are interested in having an activity be counted towards your renewal points you must first get this approved by the same person who conducts your local evaluation.

Professional Organizations

When searching for information about renewal point activities or math teacher jobs in Tennessee, you may consider exploring a professional organization of like-minded colleagues in your field. These are organized by regional or statewide chapters, and include:

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