Secondary Teacher Preparation

2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

2011 Goals for Secondary Teacher Preparation

The state should ensure that secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content.

Best practices

Not only do Indiana and Tennessee require that secondary teacher candidates pass a content test to teach any core secondary subjects, but these states also do not permit any significant loopholes to this important policy by allowing secondary general science or social studies licenses (see Goals 1-G and 1-H).

Best practice 2

States

Meets goal 29

States

Nearly meets goal 0

States

Meets goal in part 8

States

Meets a small part of goal 0

States

Does not meet goal 12

States

Do states require secondary candidates to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of every subject they are qualified to teach?

2011
Figure details

Yes. State requires a single-subject test for every subject a teacher is licensed to teach.: IN, TN

Partially. State generally requires single-subject tests; however, its policy has significant deficiencies regarding science and/or social studies.: AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV

No. State does not require single-subject test for every subject a teacher is licensed to teach.: AK, AZ, CA, CO, IA, MN, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, OR, RI, WY

Do states require secondary candidates to demonstrate sufficient knowledge in the endorsement area in order to earn an endorsement?

2011
Figure details

Yes. State requires a single-subject test to add an endorsement area.: IN, TN

Partially. State generally requires single-subject tests; however, its policy has significant deficiencies regarding science and/or social studies.: AL, AR, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, KS, KY, MA, ME, MI, MN, ND, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV

No. State does not require a single-subject test to add an endorsement area.: AK, AZ, CA, CO, DC, HI, IA, LA, MD, MO, MS, MT, NC, NE, NH, NM, NV, OR, RI, WY

How we graded

Completion of coursework provides no assurance that prospective teachers know the specific content they will teach. 

Secondary teachers must be experts in the subject matter they teach, and only a rigorous test ensures that teacher candidates are sufficiently and appropriately knowledgeable in their content area. Coursework is generally only indicative of background in a subject area; even a major offers no certainty of what content has been covered.  A history major, for example, could have studied relatively little American history or almost exclusively American history. To assume that the major has adequately prepared the candidate to teach American history, European history or ancient civilizations is an unwarranted leap of faith.  

Requirements should be just as rigorous when adding an endorsement to an existing license.

Many states will allow teachers to add a content area endorsement to their license simply on the basis of having completed coursework. As described above, the completion of coursework does not offer assurance of specific content knowledge. Some states require a content test for initial licensure but not for adding an endorsement, even if the endorsement is in a completely unrelated subject.  

Research rationale

Research studies have demonstrated the positive impact of teacher content knowledge on student achievement.  For example, see D. Goldhaber, "Everyone's Doing It, But What Does Teacher Testing Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness?" Journal of Human Resources, vol. XLII no.4 (2007).  See also Harris, D., and Sass, T., "Teacher Training, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement." Teacher Quality Research (2007).Evidence can also be found in White, Pressely, DeAngelis "Leveling up: Narrowing the teacher academic capital gap in Illinois" Illinois Education Research Council (2008); D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "Does teacher certification matter? High School Certification Status and Student Achievement." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. 22: 129-145. (2000); and D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "Why Don't Schools and Teachers Seem to Matter? Assessing the impact of Unobservables on Educational Productivity." Journal of Human Resources (1998).

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