The state should ensure that its teacher preparation programs provide elementary teachers with a broad liberal arts education, the necessary foundation for teaching to the Common Core Standards.
California has adopted the Common Core Standards, and the state is on the right track in ensuring that its elementary teacher candidates are adequately prepared to teach the rigorous content associated with these standards.
In California, elementary teachers are required to pass each of the three subtests that comprise the CSET: Multiple Subjects test. The first subtest includes reading, language, literature, history and social science; the second includes science and mathematics; and the third includes physical education, human development, and visual and performing arts.
Although the state does not specify any subject-area coursework requirements for all teacher candidates, California is somewhat unique in that it requires all subject-area coursework to be completed in the undergraduate program where classes are taught by arts and sciences faculty. A degree in professional education is not allowed. Elementary teacher candidates must then complete a multiple-subject teacher preparation program.
California's elementary teacher standards include important curricular areas such as science, history-social science, visual and performing arts, physical education and health. Regrettably, they do not specify content standards but instead focus on pedagogical preparation.
However, the state does articulate standards within the framework of its CSET content test. These standards are better than those found in many states, alluding to important areas of academic knowledge. For example, in the area of history and social science, candidates must understand world history, including medieval and early modern times; U.S. history, including early exploration, the colonial era and the war for independence; and California history, including the pre-Columbian period through the gold rush.
Multiple Subject Teaching Credential http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/CREDS/iMS-5.html California Subject Examinations for Teachers www.cset.nesinc.com
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
California should ensure that its subject-matter test for elementary teacher candidates is well aligned with the Common Core Standards, which represent an effort to significantly raise the standards for the knowledge and skills American students will need for college readiness and global competitiveness.
Although California is on the right track by administering a three-part licensing test, thus making it harder for teachers to pass if they fail some subject areas, the state is encouraged to further strengthen its policy and require separate passing scores for each subject on its multiple-subject test.
Require at least an academic concentration.
Although California's policy requires that elementary teacher candidates have an arts and sciences major, the state's language does not ensure that these teachers will earn a content specialization in an academic subject area.
California was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state also contended that the recommendation made by NCTQ is based on inaccurate information. It reiterated that California requires a passing score on all three subtests of the multiple-subject CSET examination. Teacher candidates who fail a section may retake that particular section without having to repeat those sections already passed.
NCTQ's recommendation to require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects acknowledges California's requirement of a passing score on each of the three subtests that comprise the CSET. However, because these subtests combine subject areas (e.g., science, math) and do not report subscores for each subject area, the state cannot ensure that all elementary teachers possess adequate subject-matter knowledge.