Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science:
Colorado

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science: Colorado results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/CO-Secondary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Science-6

Analysis of Colorado's policies

Colorado offers an endorsement in science education, which combines physics, biology, chemistry, earth and space science, and environmental science. This appears to be the only secondary science endorsement. To demonstrate content proficiency, candidates may either complete 24 semester hours of course credit or achieve a passing score on either the PLACE test ("Science") or the Praxis II "General Science" test. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general science but rather can teach any of the topical areas.

Colorado does not articulate any additional requirements for middle school science teachers. The state also allows middle school science teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license (see Goal 1-E).

Citation

Recommendations for Colorado

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.

State response to our analysis

Colorado recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Research rationale

For an examination of how science teacher preparation positively impacts student achievement, see Goldhaber, D., & Brewer, D. (2000). Does teacher certification matter? High school certification status and student achievement, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 22, 129-145; Monk, D. (1994). Subject area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievement, Economics of Education Review, 12(2):125-145; Rothman, A., (1969). Teacher characteristics and student learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 6(4), 340-348.  

See also, NCTQ "The All-Purpose Science Teacher: An Analysis of Loopholes in State Requirements for High School Science Teachers."(2010). 

In addition, research studies have demonstrated the positive impact of teacher content knowledge on student achievement.  For example, see D. Goldhaber, "Everyone's Doing It, But What Does Teacher Testing Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness?" Journal of Human Resources, vol. XLII no.4 (2007).  See also Harris, D., and Sass, T., "Teacher Training, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement". Teacher Quality Research (2007). Evidence can also be found in White, Presely, DeAngelis "Leveling up: Narrowing the teacher academic capital gap in Illinois," Illinois Education Research Council (2008); D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "Why Don't Schools and Teachers Seem to Matter? Assessing the impact of Unobservables on Educational Productivity." Journal of Human Resources (1998).