Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
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: California offers a K-12 Single Subject Teaching Credential. The state requires its secondary teacher candidates to verify subject-matter competence in one of two ways: earn a passing score on the appropriate California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) subject-matter exam, or complete a commission-approved subject-matter program.
Endorsements: Secondary teachers in California may add endorsements to their licenses through similar options as outlined above.
Secondary Licensure Deficiencies: Unfortunately, California allows a general social science license without requiring subject-matter testing for each subject area within these disciplines. Because secondary content testing loopholes are scored in Secondary
Licensure Deficiencies, it is not considered as part of the score for the Secondary Content Knowledge goal.
Single Subject Teaching Credential http://www.ctc.ca.gov/docs/default-source/leaflets/cl560c.pdf?sfvrsn=16 California Education Code 44257(a) 5 California Code of Regulations 80499 Test Requirements http://www.ctcexams.nesinc.com/
Require subject-matter testing for secondary teacher candidates.
As a condition of licensure, California should require its secondary teacher candidates to pass a content test in each subject area they plan to teach to ensure that they possess adequate subject-matter knowledge and are prepared to teach grade-level content.
Require subject-matter testing when adding subject-area endorsements.
California 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. While coursework may be generally indicative of background in a particular subject area, only a subject-matter test ensures that teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.
California did not respond to NCTQ's request to review this analysis for accuracy.
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.