Educator Preparation Provider (EPP) Approval

All Tennessee educator preparation providers (EPPs), and the specialty area programs (SAPs) offered by EPPs that lead to licensure, must be approved by the State Board of Education (SBE). To be approved, all licensure programs must ensure that candidates have the opportunity to attain the knowledge and skills specified by the SBE, have clinical experiences in accordance with guidelines established by the SBE, and meet all other standards, procedures, and guidelines established by the SBE in Educator Preparation Policy 5.504, Literacy & Specialty Area Standards for Educator Preparation Policy 5.505, and SBE Rule Chapter 0520-02-04.

All EPPs must meet the standards adopted by the SBE to receive conditional and subsequent full approval to prepare candidates for licensure in Tennessee. The following types of organizations may apply for approval to serve as a Tennessee EPP:

  • Tennessee-based institutions of higher education (IHEs) authorized by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) working in collaboration with at least one local education agency (LEA) with which the IHE has established a primary partnership
  • Tennessee-based education-related organizations (EROs) working in collaboration with at least one LEA with which the ERO has established a primary partnership
  • Tennessee LEAs or a consortium of Tennessee LEAs operating in good standing
  • Out-of-state provider that holds approval in a state other than Tennessee (requirements of out-of-state providers)

For more information on EPP/LEA partnerships, visit the Partnerships page. All EPPs must meet the standards adopted by the SBE to receive conditional and full approval to prepare candidates for licensure in Tennessee.

In order to be approved, all EPPs must meet the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) standards. EPPs may choose one of two pathways to demonstrate evidence of meeting these standards:

  • Engage in a national accreditation process through a CAEP conducted review, or
  • Engage in a state approval process through a review managed by the department.

Organizations seeking initial approval in Tennessee must have full state approval prior to seeking CAEP accreditation. Current Tennessee EPPs may use CAEP accreditation in lieu of the state approval process; however, the status of CAEP accreditation does not guarantee state approval. The State Board of Education has the sole responsibility for approving EPPs in Tennessee. The approval of Specialty Area Programs (SAPs) is the sole responsibility of the state board, informed by recommendations from the Tennessee Department of Education.

Tennessee Comprehensive Review (TNCR) Handbook

The Tennessee Comprehensvie Review (TNCR) Handbook was generated to support EPPs that are preparing for an upcoming state-managed comprehensive review during the academic year. While this handbook may provide useful guidance for all EPPs, EPPs seeking CAEP accreditation will need to follow guidance and expectations developed by CAEP, including processes for uploading evidence into the CAEP submission system (currently AIMS). This handbook is intended to serve as a companion to the TN Atlas system, where EPPs will upload all required evidence and respond to narrative prompts during the completion of the self-study. The self-study process is a significant component of the comprehensive review, requiring EPPs to address all components of the CAEP standards. In addition to this handbook, the department recommends a careful review of the CAEP Revised 2022 Standards Workbook, which served as a foundation for the generation of this handbook.

The 2023-24 TNCR Handbook Crosswalk was created to provide a crosswalk between standards within the 2020-21 TNCR Handbook and the 2023-24 TNCR Handbook. Additional details regarding the expectations for each standard can be found in the Component and Indicator sections of the 2023-24 TNCR Handbook


2019-2020 TNCR Handbook - This consolidated TNCR handbook is published for site visits between fall 2019 and spring 2020, effective February 2019.

SAP Reports

As part of the comprehensive review process, EPPs participating in a state-managed review or a joint state and CAEP review will be required to engage in a specialty area program (SAP) review. Detailed guidance regarding the SAP review can be found in the SAP Reports for Comprehensive Review guidance documents, and this EPP presentation.

This SAP review webinar was provided for TNCR trained reviewers and includes a more in depth look at the process of reviewing a SAP during a comprehensive review.

Initial Approval (Prospective EPPs) - Eligible organizations seeking initial approval as an EPP in order to prepare and recommend candidates for licensure shall participate in the initial approval process by submitting a proposal to the department. Information about the approval process, provider and preparation standards, and program requirements are available in Educator Preparation Rule 0520-04Educator Preparation Policy 5.504, and Literacy & Specialty Area Standards for Educator Preparation Policy 5.505.

Eligible organizations should email for additional information regarding the proposal process, submission materials, and to schedule the required orientation. Proposals submitted for EPP initial approval are reviewed by the department, and must provide evidence that the entity has the capacity to serve as an EPP and provide programs leading to licensure. After the proposal review is complete, the department makes a recommendation to the State Board of Education of either initial approval or denial of initial approval.

Specialty Area Program (SAP) Approval – In July 2020, the department revised the process for EPP development and submission of specialty area program proposals. This process is for any Tennessee-approved EPP that would like to apply for conditional approval to offer:

·         new SAP(s) that leads to initial licensure;

·         an additional initial licensure pathway(s) of a currently approved SAP(s); or

·         significant revision(s) to a currently approved SAP.

This process is required for all proposed SAPs, except for integrated early childhood and instructional leader programs.

EPPs interested in submitting a SAP proposal must complete an intent to submit form at least four weeks prior to the selected review cycle submission date set by TDOE. Proposals must follow the new guidelines for development and submission in TNAtlas. The required SAP cover page can be found here and the department-generated spreadsheet required for section three of the proposal can be found here.

EPPs interested in submitting a SAP proposal during an upcoming review cycle are strongly encouraged to review the SAP webinar guidance and PowerPoint presentation prior to submission. 

Proposals are due in TNAtlas by the submission dates listed in the table below.

Intent to Submit Due Proposal Due Department Feedback Revisions Due Department Feedback and Outcome
June 6 July 6 October 4 November 18 January 17
September 6 October 6 January 4 February 18 April 18
December 6 January 6 April 5 May 21 July 20
March 6 April 6 July 5 August 19 October 18

Integrated Early Childhood Programs – Beginning in 2026, all prospective educators entering a preparation program for early childhood education will complete an approved integrated early childhood and special education program offered by a Tennessee educator preparation provider (EPP). As approved by the State Board of Education, currently offered early childhood endorsements will be phased out by 2026.

EPPs interested in submitting an integrated early childhood birth-Kindergarten and/or pre-K-3 program proposal must submit an intent to submit form at least four weeks prior to the selected review cycle submission date set by the department. Proposals must follow the integrated early childhood program proposal requirements. The required SAP cover page can be found here and the department-generated spreadsheet required for section three of the proposal can be found here.

A webinar for supporting the development of integrated early childhood proposals is here.

Proposals are due in TNAtlas by the submission dates listed in the specialty area program approval table above.

Annual Reports

Each year, Tennessee EPPs submit information to the department for a report that provides information on a set of Tennessee-specific criteria, along with information required by CAEP. This data is used to create Annual Reports and includes information on five domains that each include multiple indicators related to the performance of the provider and each SAP or cluster of SAPs. There are two main components of the Annual Reports:

  • Insights Tool – This tool provides EPPs with actionable data (current and historic), at EPP, SAP cluster, and SAP levels. This tool allows EPPs to investigate and interact with multiple metrics across various domains and cohort years with detailed information to support continuous improvement. EPPs can use filters within the Insights Tool to disaggregate data by clinical type, endorsement area, or program type.
  • Performance Report – This report provides EPPs, the department, and review teams with data that can be used to inform approval recommendations during comprehensive reviews and inform the decision to conduct an interim review between cycles when and an EPP consistently falls below expectations.

For more information on the most recent Annual Reports, see the 2022 Annual Reports for Tennessee Educators Technical Guide. Annual Reports are accessible by EPPs through TNAtlas.