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School Psychology Licensure in Tennessee: Become a School Psychologist in TN

Tennessee school psychologists are licensed by the Office of Educator Licensing, under the banner of the Tennessee Department of Education. The school psychology credential is valid at all levels from pre-kindergarten through high school.

The initial credential for an in-state school psychologist is ‘Apprentice Special Group’. It is issued to those who meet education and examination requirements. After successful work experience, the school psychologist can move up to a ‘Professional School Service’ license.

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Education and Training Requirements

The foundation for an apprentice license in special services is a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution. The candidate will then earn a graduate degree; the minimum is a master’s degree in the area in which the candidate is applying (http://www.tennessee.gov/education/licensing/new_personnel.shtml).

A prospective school psychologist should enroll in a program that meets the curriculum guidelines of the National Association of School Psychologists, or NASP http://www.tennessee.gov/education/lic/doc/accttchlicstds.pdf. The course of study is to be integrated and sequential. The student will complete an internship near the end of the program. The internship may be full-time for a year or half-time for two years. At least half must be served in a school setting. School supervision must be provided by a licensed school psychologist. Up to half may be spent in another setting that serves youth and families. Supervision must be provided by an individual with appropriate credentialing.

A prospective student can search for Tennessee programs (or confirm approval status) on the DOE site (http://www.tennessee.gov/education/teaching/educator_prep.shtml).

Examination Requirement

The candidate must also take the Praxis II examination for school psychologists. The required score on test 0401 is 154. This version of the test went into use in September 2008 and will be in use until September 2014. At that time, it will be replaced by test 5402.

Candidates can visit the site of Educational Testing Service to see current state requirements (https://www.ets.org/praxis/tn/requirements/). They may also download a candidate bulletin for the specific test they will be taking; the bulletin includes sample questions as well as general information about test registration, test day procedures, and score reporting.

If a candidate tests at a Tennessee site, the score will be reported to the Office of Educator Licensing; the Office does note that a social security number will be needed (http://www.tennessee.gov/education/licensing/praxis.shtml). A candidate may opt for a testing site in another state, but will need the Tennessee code (https://www.ets.org/praxis/tn). It will typically take several weeks for scores to be reported.

The cost of test 0401 is $115. ETS can be contacted by phone at 1-800-772-9476 between 8:00 AM and 7:45 PM.

The Application Process

Out of state licensing applications and other supplemental forms are available on the website of the licensing agency (http://www.tennessee.gov/education/licensing/forms.shtml).

In the case of in-state candidates, the application will be made by the preparing institution.

Applicants can monitor application status online. General information about submission dates of applications currently under review is available on the Office website.

The Office of Educator Licensing does not issue paper licenses but indicates that newly credentialed professionals will receive emails with instructions on retrieving license information (http://www.tennessee.gov/education/licensing/faq.shtml).

Advancing to Professional School Service Licensing

According to current regulations, the apprentice license is issued for five years. It can be renewed if the educator does not accrue sufficient experience during the five year time period.

Professionals must have at least three years (or 25 months) of acceptable experience to advance to professional licensing (http://www.tennessee.gov/education/licensing/advance.shtml). They must have been in their current employment at least five months. Advancement requires administrator evaluation. The administrator must have taken a particular training mandated by the Department of Education. The application for advancement is submitted by the employing school district.

Advancement status for employees of nonpublic schools depends on the category of the school. School service personnel are not eligible for advancement if employed at category 4 or 5 private schools. Advancement is optional for those employed at category 2 or 3 schools. It is mandated for those in category 1 or 7.

Changes in the advancement process were slated to go into effect in 2015. The State Board voted to rescind some changes. Professionals are advised that “new policy language” will soon be posted (http://www.tennessee.gov/education/licensing/policy_changes.shtml).

Additional Licensing Options

Tennessee school psychologists who have education at the doctoral level can also pursue licensure through the Tennessee Board of Examiners in Psychology (http://health.state.tn.us/boards/Psychology/index.htm). With a Board-issued license, a psychologist can practice independently. There are additional requirements for examination and supervised practice.

The National Association of School Psychologists notes that most Tennessee school psychologists would qualify for the Certified Psychological Assistant license; this could authorize practice as an employee in a non-school setting.

Additional Information

Updates are posted on the website of the Office of Educator Licensing (http://www.tn.gov/education/licensing/policy_changes.shtml).

The Office can be reached at 615-532-4885. Candidates with questions can use the email contact form (http://www.tennessee.gov/education/licensing/faq.shtml).

The Tennessee Association of School Psychologists is not involved with the licensing process but serves as an additional professional resource (http://tasponline.org/).