The state should ensure that social studies teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
The District of Columbia only offers secondary certification in general social studies. Candidates must complete 33 semester hours that include history, world history, U.S. history and the history and government of the District of Columbia; geography; economics; political science; and at least one of the following: international relations, law, philosophy, psychology, sociology, social science or anthropology. They must also pass the Praxis II "Social Studies: Content Knowledge" test. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general social studies but rather can teach any of the topical areas.
Middle school teachers in the District of Columbia must complete a minimum of 30 semester hours in a content-related major. Commendably, candidates must also pass a Praxis II content knowledge test in the content area of the teaching assignment.
DC Municipal Regulations, 5.1619, 5.1610 Teacher Licensure Requirements osse.dc.gov/seo/cwp/view,a,1224,Q,563671,PM,1.asp Praxis Testing Requirements www.ets.org
Require secondary social studies teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each social studies discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general social studies certifications—and only require a general knowledge social studies exam—are not ensuring that their secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. The District of Columbia's required assessment combines all subject areas (e.g., history, geography, economics) and does not report separate scores for each subject area. Therefore, candidates could answer many—perhaps all—history questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach history to high school students.
The District of Columbia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.