Secondary Teacher Preparation in Social
Studies

2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

2011 Goals for Secondary Teacher Preparation in Social Studies

The state should ensure that social studies teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.

Best practices

Not only does Indiana ensure that its secondary social studies teachers possess adequate content knowledge of all subjects they intend to teach—through both coursework and content testing—but the state's policy also does not make it overly burdensome for social studies teachers to teach multiple subjects. Other notable states include Georgia and South Dakota, which also do not offer secondary general social studies certifications. 

Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Secondary Teacher Preparation in Social Studies national results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/national/Secondary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Social-Studies-6
Best practice 1

State

Meets goal 2

States

Nearly meets goal 2

States

Meets goal in part 32

States

Meets a small part of goal 1

State

Does not meet goal 13

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

Is a social studies teacher prepared to teach history?

Just as with broad field science, most states offer a general social studies license at the secondary level.  For this certification, teachers can have a background in a wide variety of fields, ranging from history and political science to anthropology or psychology. Under such a license a teacher who majored in psychology could be licensed to teach secondary history having passed only a general knowledge test and answering most—and perhaps all—history questions incorrectly.

Middle school social studies teachers must know middle grade-level social studies.  

Middle school teachers should demonstrate their knowledge of social studies through a test with a separate passing score for this subject area. General knowledge tests with an overall passing score can mask serious weaknesses in teachers' content knowledge. As problematic as general tests with a composite passing score are for elementary teachers, the problem is exacerbated for middle school teachers, who may well teach only one subject in a departmentalized setting.  

Research rationale

Carlisle, J. F., Correnti, R., Phelps, G., & Zeng, J., "Exploration of the contribution of teachers' knowledge about reading to their students' improvement in reading." Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 22, 459-486 (2009) includes evidence specifically related to the importance of secondary social studies knowledge.
 
In addition, 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).  Evidence can also be found in White, Presely, 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). See also Harris, D., and Sass, T., "Teacher Training, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement." Teacher Quality Research (2007).

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