The state should ensure that its teacher preparation programs provide elementary teachers with a broad liberal arts education, the necessary foundation for teaching to the Common Core Standards.
Although Georgia has adopted the Common Core Standards, the state does not ensure that its early childhood teacher candidates are adequately prepared to teach the rigorous content associated with these standards.
In Georgia, early childhood teachers are required to pass each of the two subtests that comprise the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) general elementary content test. The first test includes reading and English language arts, and social studies; the second one targets mathematics, science, and health, physical education and the arts.
Although the state does not specify any general education coursework requirements for early childhood teacher candidates, Georgia's teacher standards include some important topics, such as physical and biological science, grammar and composition, and music. However, there are gaps in many important subject areas, including American and world history; American government; American, world, British and children's literature; and art history.
Georgia also indicates subject-area expectations through the framework of the GACE content test. For example, in the area of social studies, teacher candidates are required to understand history, government, economics and geography. However, the framework still lacks specific mention of important areas such as American and world literature, basic chemistry, and art history.
Finally, there is no assurance that arts and sciences faculty will teach liberal arts classes to elementary teacher candidates.
Georgia Rules 505-3-.01, -.16 Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators www.gace.nesinc.com
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Georgia should ensure that its subject-matter test for elementary teacher candidates is well aligned with the Common Core Standards, which represent an effort to significantly raise the standards for the knowledge and skills American students will need for college readiness and global competitiveness.
Although Georgia is on the right track by administering a two-part licensing test, thus making it harder for teachers to pass if they fail some subject areas, the state is encouraged to further strengthen its policy and require separate passing scores for each subject on its multiple-subject test.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
Georgia should either articulate a more specific set of standards or establish comprehensive coursework requirements that are specifically geared to the areas of knowledge needed by PK-6 teachers. Further, the state should align its requirements for elementary teacher candidates with the Common Core Standards to ensure that candidates will complete coursework relevant to the common topics in elementary grades. An adequate curriculum is likely to require approximately 36 credit hours in the core subject areas of English, science, social studies and fine arts.
Require at least an academic concentration.
An academic concentration, if not a full academic major, would not only enhance Georgia teachers' content knowledge, but it would also ensure that prospective teachers have taken higher-level academic coursework. Further, it would provide an option for teacher candidates unable to fulfill student teaching or other professional requirements to still earn a degree.
Ensure that arts and sciences faculty teach liberal arts coursework.
Although an education professor is best suited to teach effective methodologies in subject instruction, faculty from the university's college of arts and sciences should provide subject-matter foundation.
Georgia asserted that the Professional Standards Commission requires programs to ensure that teacher candidates are prepared to implement the appropriate sections of any Georgia mandated curriculum in each relevant content area.
The state also pointed out that candidates enrolled in public institutions are required by the University System of Georgia to take a minimum of 19 hours of general education courses as part of their core curriculum in baccalaureate programs. The core curriculum includes courses in humanities, science, math and social science.