The state should ensure that secondary teachers demonstrate sufficient knowledge appropriate grade-level content. This goal was consistent between 2017 and 2020.
Content Test Requirements: Arizona offers single-subject secondary licenses to teach grades 6-12. Unfortunately, the state allows candidates pursuing the following options to meet the state's subject-knowledge proficiency requirements:
Arizona Administrative Code, Title 7, R7-2- 607; -610;-610.01; 610.02; -615 Test Requirements www.aepa.nesinc.com Certification Requirements https://www.azed.gov/educator-certification/forms-and-information/certificates/
Require content testing in all core areas for secondary teacher candidates.
Arizona should require subject-matter testing for all secondary teacher candidates in every core academic area they intend to teach as a condition of initial licensure. To ensure meaningful secondary content tests, the state should set its passing scores to reflect high levels of performance. The state's policy allows teacher candidates to demonstrate content knowledge in ways that do not include the passage of a single-subject content test. Relevant upper-level coursework lays the foundation for requisite content knowledge, but to ensure that teacher candidates possess sufficient subject-matter knowledge for the secondary classroom, Arizona should require all teacher candidates to pass a single-subject test.
Require subject-matter testing when adding subject-area endorsements. Arizona should require passing scores on subject-specific content tests, regardless of other coursework or degree requirements, for teachers who are licensed in core secondary subjects and wish to add another subject area, or endorsement, to their licenses.
Arizona was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
3D: Secondary Content Knowledge
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 a rigorous, subject-matter specific test ensures that teacher candidates are sufficiently and appropriately knowledgeable in their content area. In fact, research suggests that a positive correlation exists between teachers' content knowledge and the academic achievement of their students. 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, whereas a rigorous content test could verify aspiring teachers' knowledge in each topic area.
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. Even states that require a content test for initial licensure should require an additional content test for adding an endorsement.