TDOE and Bring “Keys to the Classroom” Resources to Future Tennessee Teachers

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 | 09:00am


Provide Support for Tennessee Teacher Apprentices; Combat Staffing Shortages

Nashville, TN — Today, the Tennessee Department of Education, in partnership with, announced all Tennessee Teacher Apprenticeship candidates studying to become a teacher through the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center have free access to the “Keys to the Classroom” suite of resources to provide test prep support for their licensure tests to earn their Tennessee teacher’s license.

The "Keys to the Classroom” suite of resources will provide high-quality test preparation supports, removing barriers for teacher apprentices preparing to take licensure tests to earn their teacher’s license. Participating educator preparation providers (EPPs) in the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center will have access to 1,200 free log-ins for their prospective teachers to be equipped with the tools and knowledge needed to prepare for and pass their teacher licensure tests. 

In Tennessee and across the nation, passing the required licensure test to earn a teacher’s license can be a significant obstacle and further challenges districts as they work to combat staffing shortages. This initiative, as a part of the state’s Grow Your Own strategic efforts, will help eliminate barriers to ensure more qualified teachers are entering the teaching profession in Tennessee.

“Providing free test prep resources in Tennessee further emphasizes our commitment to ensure every child has a well-trained, high-quality educator in their classroom,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “Too often, the financial and preparation barriers prevent outstanding Tennesseans from entering our classrooms. We are grateful that partners like are joining in our strategic efforts through teacher apprenticeships to strengthen the educator pipeline through no-cost, high-quality opportunities.” 

Tennessee is the first state in the country to sponsor registered teacher occupation apprenticeships between school districts and Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs). Tennessee’s Teacher Apprenticeship models align leading practices in teacher preparation and development with the rigors of the national registered apprenticeship process.

In May 2022, the department announced a $20 million investment to create the Tennessee Grow Your Own Center, in partnership with the University of Tennessee System. With a presence in every county and multiple campus locations, the University of Tennessee System is attracting more aspiring educators to the profession. The Center is leading innovative teacher apprenticeship programs for educator credentialing, ensuring districts and candidates statewide have access to varied programs, degrees, and matches for their localized need – at no cost.

"As the teacher shortage crisis continues to affect schools across the nation, we are doubling down in our investment in building a more diverse teacher pipeline through Keys to the Classroom," said Dana Bryson, SVP of Social Impact, "We are proud to work with innovative partners like Tennessee's Department of Education, which has created a state-wide, sustainable model for teacher recruitment with innovative pathways to becoming a certified teacher."

“The Tennessee Grow Your Own Center is thrilled to support the delivery of’s tremendous offerings to our teacher apprentice districts and candidates,” said Erin Crisp, Executive Director, Tennessee Grow Your Center. “The center supports greater access and opportunity for future educators, and our commitment to quality programs and statewide scale will ensure a pipeline of high-quality educators, ultimately benefiting the outcomes of our Tennessee students for years to come.”  

Through Grow Your Own programs across the state, each teacher apprentice will become a licensed and endorsed Tennessee educator. Each K-12 teacher apprentice is employed by the respective district and takes related coursework through the partnering EPP. To ultimately attain their teaching license, along with meeting other apprenticeship requirements, teacher apprentices seeking licensure and additional endorsements must submit qualifying scores on all required content assessments developed and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), National Evaluation Services (NES), or the Tennessee Language Center.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact


About the Tennessee Department of Education

The Tennessee Department of Education accelerates growth for all students to be on a path to success through the state’s strategic plan, Best for All, which focuses on high-quality academics, student readiness and supports, and the state’s strong current and future educators. 

About & “Keys to the Classroom” is a leading online education platform providing academic support for learners and educators. Recognized on the GSV EdTech 150 as a leading EdTech company, simplifies learning for over 30 million learners and educators a month. has donated $24 million in-kind value across social impact programs committed to Making Education Accessible through our Pledge 1% partnerships and programs focused on increasing access and equity in education for underserved learners.

Through the “Keys to the Classroom” suite of resources, partners with state education departments, school districts, colleges of education, and education-focused nonprofits to help aspiring educators prepare and pass their credentialing exams. “Keys to the Classroom” is currently in 14 states, and has committed to donating over $3 million in test prep materials. Across the nation, hundreds of teacher cadets are currently enrolled in “Keys to the Classroom,” including 50 percent who identify as people of color. “Keys to the Classroom” was recently honored by Tech and Learning with an Award of Excellence for Primary Education.