2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Secondary teachers in California are generally licensed under the Single Subject Teaching Credential, which is valid in grades K-12. Although it appears that California does not offer a general science license, except for foundational-level subject areas, the state allows candidates to verify subject matter competence in one of two ways: either by passing a content test or by completing a commission-approved subject matter program.
Middle school science teachers also primarily rely on the Single Subject Teaching Credential; however, those who hold a Multiple Subject Teacher Credential may teach in self-contained classrooms. They may also teach in any 5-8 classroom provided they teach two or more subjects for two or more periods per day to the same group of students.
California Education Code 44257.2(c); 44258.1 Secondary (Single Subject) Teaching Credentials www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/CREDS/secondary-teaching.html
Require secondary science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each science discipline they intend to teach.
Although coursework plays a key role in teachers' acquisition of content knowledge, program completion should not replace the requirement of an assessment, which is the only way to ensure that teachers possess adequate knowledge of the subject area. While a major is generally indicative of a background in a particular subject area, only a subject-matter test ensures that candidates know the specific content they will need to teach.
Require middle school science teachers to also pass a test of content knowledge that ensures sufficient knowledge of science.
California disagreed with NCTQ's recommendation that although coursework plays a key role in teachers' acquisition of content knowledge, program completion should not replace the requirement of an assessment, stating: "Obviously a degree (or 32 semester units) in the subject is a much better indicator of content knowledge than simply taking a test, even one as rigorous as California's CSET exams."
The state further asserted that the scope of content knowledge assessed by the CSET examination for purposes of establishing subject-matter competency for its foundational-level science certificate includes all of the science areas (biology, chemistry, geosciences and physics) at the general science level and would be appropriate for middle school science classes.
The science-specific CSET assessment is appropriate for middle school teachers; however, candidates pursuing the Single Subject Teaching Credential are not required to pass it.