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Nonpublic Schools

In his first State of the State address on March 4, 2019, Gov. Bill Lee said, “Tennessee must deliver a world class education and that education must be aligned with the needs of the job creators of today and tomorrow. To accomplish that, our students need more guidance, our teachers and principals need more support, and our parents need more choices.”

He continued, “Parents need more choices with respect to the education of their children and those options should be well-funded and highly accountable. Students have different needs and abilities, and our education system should mirror that diversity as best as possible.”

Today, Tennessee is home to more than 600 nonpublic schools, which includes private schools and home school umbrella programs. Private schools are primarily funded through school tuitions paid by families and private donations from individuals and organizations.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, provides benefits to private school students, teachers and other education personnel, including those in religion-affiliated schools. Read more about these benefits.

Current List of Nonpublic Schools

Download the current (as of June 29, 2020) listing of nonpublic schools here.
 

Handouts: Fire Marshal Codes

Nonpublic School Categories

The State Board of Education (SBE) has designated five categories of private schools in Tennessee differentiated by their TDOE approval status or by the relevant school accrediting/membership agency and applicable state requirements. Nonpublic schools are categorized 1 to 5 based upon these characteristics:
 


Nonpublic School Category

Description

Approved Accrediting Agencies

1

1-SP

 

Schools approved by the Tennessee Department of Education.

Special purpose schools that provide education for students while they receive short-term medical or transient care.


N/A

 

 

 


2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schools approved by an accrediting agency that has been approved by the Tennessee State Board of Education. Schools holding full accreditation status with an approved agency are approved by the State Department of Education.

If Category 2 is chosen, contact the accrediting agency of choice and apply for membership. If church-related, the accrediting agency generally starts the school as a Category 5 school and requires a candidacy period to become an accredited Category 2 school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) 

Association of Classical & Christian Schools, Inc.

Diocese of Nashville Catholic Schools Office

Christian Schools International
Accreditation Services

Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS)

National Luthernal School Accreditation

Southern Union Conference of the Seventh Day Adventis Church (SDA)

Tennessee Association of Christian Schools (TACS)

Tennessee Association of Non-Public Academic Schools (TANAS)


3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schools that are regionally accredited.

 

If Category 3 is chosen, contact one of the approved regional accrediting agencies and fulfill their criteria for candidacy. For established schools, the process for accreditation can take up to a year. For newly established schools, the process could take up to two years. During this candidacy period, often these schools start as Category 5 schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accrediting Commission for Schools Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC)

Cognia (formerly AdvancED)

Middle States Association Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA CESS)

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)

Middle States Commission on  Elementary Schools (MSCES)

Middle States Commission on Secondary School (MSCSS)

National Association of Independent School (NAIS)

National Council for Private School Accreditation (NCPSA)

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC)

Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS)

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI)

Tennessee Association of Independent Schools (TAIS)


4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Schools that are church-related which are defined by law as those operated by a denominational, parochial, or other church organization and which meet the statutory accrediting requirements. Schools in this category are exempt from state regulation of faculty, textbooks, and curriculum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Must be a member of or accredited by one of the following associations:

Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. (ACE)

Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI)

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

Tennessee Alliance of Church-Related Schools

Tennessee Association of Christian Schools (TACS)

Tennessee Association of Church-Related Schools (TACRS)

Tennessee Association of Independent Schools (TAIS)

Tennessee Association of Non-Public Academic Schools (TANAS)

5

 

 

 

 


Schools acknowledged for operation by the Tennessee Department of Education. The state sets no accreditation requirements for these schools, though they must administer a nationally-recognized standardized test for students annually in grades 3 – 12.

Category 5 is generally selected for schools in a candidacy mode. Candidates for accreditation (to become a category 2 or 3 school) often begin at the category 5 level while completing the requirements of the state or accrediting agency.

N/A

 

 

 

 

Starting a New Nonpublic School

To start a new nonpublic school in Tennessee, please follow these steps:

Step 1: Choose a nonpublic school category (see chart above). These categories are described fully in section 0520-07-02 of the Tennessee State Board of Education Rules.

Step 2: Complete the Initial Application for Nonpublic School Approval form.

Step 3: Obtain fire marshal approval. The Office of School Models and Programs will need to initiate the fire marshal inspection. Once a space is identified for the school, complete the Fire Marshal Inspection Request form. 

Additionally, a positive environmental report from the Department of Health and Environment is required. The Tennessee Division of General Environmental Health conducts inspections of school plants for sanitation and safety requirements. For further information, contact the Division of General Environmental Health at (615) 741-7206.

Step 4: All private schools must work directly with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to ensure background checks of each employee. More information can be found here.

Step 5: Ensure teachers have the proper credentials according to school category:

  • Category 1 teachers must meet the same licensure and certification standards as those teaching in Tennessee public schools.
  • Category 2 and 3 teachers must meet the licensure and certification standards set forth by their agency/association.
  • Category 4 teachers must satisfy association requirements.
  • Category 5 teachers must hold a baccalaureate degree, but are not required to have a teaching certificate.

Step 6: Category 1 schools must submit the T-File report once teachers are hired.

Step 7: Fulfill additional requirements based on category chosen. See requirements chart below.

Step 8: For Category 1 and 5 schools, once all of the required documents are submitted to the Office of School Models and Programs, a letter will be sent indicating approval status. For Categories 2-4, once the required documentation for the TDOE is submitted, as well as all of the requirements of the accrediting or authorizing agency are met, then the approval status will be given by the accrediting or authorizing agency.
   

Required Forms for Nonpublic Schools


Nonpublic School
Category


Required Forms for Starting
a New Nonpublic School
 
Required Forms by Due Date for All Private Schools
 

1 and 1-SP

Initial Application for Nonpublic School Approval

Fire Marshal Inspection Request Form

T-File Report including copies of teacher’s licenses and certifications

July 15: 200-Day Accountability Report. Instructions are here

Sept. 15 or within first 30 days of school year: Nonpublic School Reporting Form due to school district

Oct. 1: S-File (1 per school). Instructions are here

Oct. 1: T-File (1 per professional personnel). Instructions can be found here

Oct. 1: Nonpublic School Directory Data Form

Dec. 15: Compliance Report

2

 

 

 

Initial Application for Nonpublic School Approval

Fire Marshal Inspection Request Form

 

 

Sept. 15 or within first 30 days of school year: Nonpublic School Reporting Form due to school district

Oct. 1: Nonpublic School Directory Data Form

3

 

 

 

Initial Application for Nonpublic School Approval

 

Fire Marshal Inspection Request Form

Sept. 15 or within first 30 days of school year: Nonpublic School Reporting Form due to school district

Oct. 1: Nonpublic School Directory Data Form

4

 

 

 

Initial Application for Nonpublic School Approval

 

Fire Marshal Inspection Request Form

Sept. 15 or within first 30 days of school year: Nonpublic School Reporting Form due to school district


Oct. 1: Nonpublic School Directory Data Form

5

 

 

Initial Application for Nonpublic School Approval

Fire Marshall Inspection Request

Oct. 1: Category V Nonpublic Schools Reporting Form

Oct. 1: Nonpublic School Directory Data Form


Closing a Nonpublic School

Please submit the following form if a nonpublic school is closing.

Contact Information

Division of School Models and Programs
710 James Robertson Parkway
9th Floor, Andrew Johnson Tower
Nashville, TN 37243

Email: Private.Schools@tn.gov

 

Child Abuse Reporting Resources:
Tennessee Child Abuse Hotline
Call: 877-237-0004

Memo to Nonpublic Schools

Pursuant T.C.A. § 49-50-802, nonpublic schools shall provide parents and guardians with information about meningococcal disease and influenza (flu) and the effectiveness of vaccination against meningococcal disease and influenza (flu) at the beginning of every school year.
 

Meningococcal Vaccine Information Sheet

Influenza (Flu) Vaccine Information Sheet

 

Nonpublic School Directory Archives

The following directories include contact and demographic information reported by the non-public schools during each respective year.

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