How Can Good Teachers Not Know Their Subject Matter?

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While most high school teachers are already in compliance with the Highly Qualified Teacher provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, many middle- and elementary school educators lack the requisite qualifications (a major in their subject area or a passing score on a competency test). For instance, nationally, only 41% of 8th graders had a math teacher who had majored in math, in contrast to a worldwide average of 70% (which may explain why we do so poorly on international comparisons such as the TIMSS).

In Maryland, 28% of middle school teachers are certified for elementary school, and many of them lack an additional major besides elementary education. Although teachers have until the 2005 6 school year to come into compliance and there are many avenues to compliance some administrators are grumbling. Michael W. Doran, principal of Pyle Middle School in Bethesda, Maryland frets, We ll chase away some of the best teachers in the building. Is it really so much to ask that teachers demonstrate subject mastery?