Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Content Test Requirements:
The District of Columbia offers single-subject secondary licenses to teach grades 7-12. The District requires that its secondary teacher candidates pass a Praxis II content test to teach any core secondary subjects.
The District of Columbia requires enrollment in but not completion of, a teacher preparation program in order to obtain an initial license. While this initial license is non-renewable, it is valid for three years. Teachers must complete a teacher preparation program and complete other requirements, including passage of a basic skills test and a pedagogy test, in order to obtain a standard license.
Endorsements: To add an endorsement area, secondary teachers in the District of Columbia may choose from the following options: earn a passing score on a Praxis II content exam, complete a major or major equivalent in the subject area, or meet the coursework requirements outlined in the District's regulations.
Secondary Licensure Deficiencies: Unfortunately, the District of Columbia allows both general science and general social studies licenses without requiring subject-matter testing for each subject area within these disciplines. Because secondary content testing loopholes are scored in 3-E: Secondary Licensure Deficiencies, it is not considered as part of the score for the Secondary Content Knowledge goal.
DCMR 5-A 1601 and 1602 Educator Testing Flyer https://osse.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/osse/publication/attachments/Educator%20Testing%20Flyer%20as%20of%20March%2027%202017.pdf Praxis Testing Requirements www.ets.org Adding an Endorsement https://osse.dc.gov/service/add-another-teaching-endorsement
Require subject-matter testing for all secondary teacher candidates.
The District of Columbia wisely requires subject-matter tests for most secondary teachers but should address any loopholes that undermine this policy (see 3-E: Secondary Licensure Deficiencies analysis and recommendations). This applies to the addition of endorsements as well.
Require subject-matter testing when adding subject-area endorsements.
The District of Columbia 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. Although 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.
The District of Columbia was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The District of Columbia indicated that in order to add an endorsement area, secondary teachers in the District of Columbia must currently hold a valid Regular II Standard DC teaching credential in another subject area, and then they may choose from the following two options:
The District of Columbia may intend that its general sciences certification is designed for use in the middle grades through grade nine, but the District's regulations clearly state that the license is for grades 7 through 12.
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.