The state should ensure that social studies teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Secondary teachers in Alaska have the option of an endorsement in general social studies. The state does not require content tests for initial licensure; such tests are only mandated once candidates apply for the professional license, usually after three years. At that point, Alaska requires secondary social studies teachers to pass the Praxis II "Social Studies" content test. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general social studies but rather can teach any of the topical areas.
Middle school social studies teachers in Alaska are not required to obtain a specific middle school endorsement, and the state does not require content tests for initial licensure. Alaska also allows middle school social studies teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license (see Goal 1-E).
Praxis Testing Requirements www.ets.org
Require secondary social studies teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each social studies discipline they intend to teach, as a condition of initial licensure.
Allowing general social studies certification—and requiring only a general content test after up to three years in the classroom—does not ensure that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. Alaska's required assessment combines all subject areas (e.g., history, geography, economics) and does not report separate scores for each subject area. Therefore, candidates could answer many—perhaps all—history questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach history to high school students.
Require middle school social studies teachers to pass a test of content knowledge that ensures sufficient knowledge of social studies, as a condition of initial licensure.
Alaska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.