TDOE Offers Additional SPED and ESL Endorsement Opportunities to 5,000+ Tennessee Educators

Friday, September 03, 2021 | 01:44pm


Registration Open for Licensed Tennessee Educators Until Sept. 30


NASHVILLE, TN — Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced a new grant opportunity that will provide up to 2,400 licensed Tennessee educators the ability to add a new Special Education (SPED) and English as a Second Language (ESL) additional endorsement to their educator license.  This grant opportunity will also be offered during the 2022-23 school year, allowing another cohort of 2,400 educators to earn an additional endorsement in either SPED or ESL at low or no cost, building off additional efforts to provide these opportunities to over 5,000 educators.

Since August 5, 2021, the department has collected participant nominations from districts, with each LEA being guaranteed at least three participant seats in each additional endorsement pathway being offered. Remaining seats will now be filled on a first-come, first-served basis by Tennessee educators who self-register for the additional endorsement pathway of their choice.

The primary purpose of this grant is to address educator vacancies across Tennessee by providing a pathway for current educators to add endorsements at no out-of-pocket cost. This grant also provides current Tennessee educators additional opportunities to develop new knowledge and skills to help them grow in their practice and to better support all students, whether in their current role or in a new role.

"In Tennessee, we are committed to providing our teachers with opportunities to advance their professional careers and skillsets while responding to the needs of our districts, schools, and students,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “This is the sixth grant made available in recent months to support serving students with disabilities and the fourth grant made available for Tennessee educators to earn an additional endorsement at low or no-cost. We are dedicated to making Tennessee the state to become and stay a teacher.”

In order to register for participation in one of these additional endorsement opportunities, currently licensed Tennessee educators should complete one of the relevant forms below by Thursday, September 30, 2021:

“The partnership with Trevecca and UT-Knoxville is an incredible resource for school systems across the state.  We are faced with the challenge of teaching shortages each year and this grant allows educators to add an endorsement in subject areas that are often difficult to fill,” said Dr. Joey Vaughn, Director of Schools, Manchester City Schools. “The opportunity provided by this grant is greatly appreciated by districts and educators in Tennessee."  

Two additional endorsement grants, totaling $2 million, have been awarded to Trevecca Nazarene University and University of Tennessee-Knoxville to provide coursework in a virtual, asynchronous environment at no-cost to licensed Tennessee educators. Grant funds will also cover the cost of one administration of a required licensure assessment for all participants.

“The University of Tennessee at Knoxville is excited to launch the UT-PLAYS (Personal Learning at Your Speed) Special Education Additional Endorsement program, as funded by the Department,” said Dr. David Cihak, Associate Dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “The teacher-participants that we are currently enrolling in these programs are highly motivated and incredibly enthusiastic about the ability to broaden their professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions of the teaching profession. We are extremely grateful to the Department for funding this investment in Tennessee’s teachers, and we look forward to seeing Tennessee’s schools and ultimately Tennessee’s students benefit from this investment for years to come.”

“We're serious about our mission to serve, and we're thankful to the state of Tennessee to help multiply those efforts,” said Dr. Patrick Osborne, Professor of Leadership Studies and Associate Provost at Trevecca Nazarene University. “This opportunity is very exciting! It's an absolute privilege to assist our communities, fellow neighbors, and educators in this endeavor. We are grateful to do so."

Those individuals who have already been nominated by their district for this opportunity, or for another additional endorsement opportunity being offered by the department, will not be eligible for self-registration at this time. For the SPED additional endorsement opportunities being offered, either districts or participants will be responsible for covering the cost of 1 required licensure assessment prior to earning their endorsement.

This is the sixth grant program made available by the department in recent months to support LEAs in serving students with disabilities, the fourth grant made available by the department that allows current Tennessee educators to earn an additional endorsement at low or no-cost, and the second grant made available by the department that allows educators to gain an additional endorsement in ESL for free. 

This latest grant announcement builds upon the work the department has done to offer 450+ educators the opportunity to add an additional endorsement in SPED, ESL, or Secondary Math at no cost during the 2021-22 school year. 

In total, the department has now offered more than 5,000 Tennessee educators the opportunity to earn an additional endorsement in SPED, ESL, or Secondary Math over the next 2 years while completing coursework through an approved Educator Preparation Provider (EPP). All of these programs greatly expand access to high-quality additional endorsement programs by allowing Tennessee educators to complete online coursework at low or no-cost.

To read more about previous Additional Endorsement grants offered by the department, click here and here.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact

2022-23 Additional Endorsement Programming    

Throughout the next school year, the department will offer four free additional endorsement programs through partnerships with Trevecca Nazarene University and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.  

Trevecca is running additional endorsement programs for  

  • English as a Second Language Pre-K–12 (490)
  • Special Education Interventionist K-8 (144) 

UTK is running additional endorsement programs for  

  • Special Education Comprehensive K-12 (461)
  • Special Education Interventionist 6-12 (145) 

For more information, and the application for Trevecca’s programming, click here

For more information, and the application for UTK’s programming, click here

Please contact with any additional questions.