The state should ensure that secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content.
Georgia requires that its secondary teacher candidates pass a content test (Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators, or GACE) to teach any core secondary subjects. Unfortunately, Georgia permits a significant loophole to this important policy by allowing a general science license, without requiring subject-matter testing for each subject area within this discipline (see Goal 1-G).
Further, to add an additional field to a secondary license, teachers must also pass a content test. However, as stated above, Georgia cannot guarantee content knowledge in each specific subject for those secondary teachers who add general science endorsements.
Georgia Rule 505-2-.20, -.25
Require subject-matter testing for all secondary teacher candidates.
Georgia wisely requires subject-matter tests for most secondary teachers but should address any loopholes that undermine this policy (see Goal 1-G). This applies to the addition of endorsements as well.
Regarding the statement that it cannot guarantee content knowledge in each specific subject for those secondary teachers who add general science endorsements, Georgia asserted that its current science endorsement program applies only to grades K-5, not secondary, and is designed to strengthen and enhance competency levels in science for those educators who have already demonstrated subject-matter expertise.
Regarding the statement that it permits a significant loophole by allowing a general science license, without requiring subject-matter testing for each subject area within this discipline, Georgia contended that the GACE Science test is appropriate for completers of the state-approved educator preparation program in science. Aligned with state-mandated curriculum standards and with state-adopted program standards, this test was developed by secondary science teachers and those who prepare secondary science teachers: "Psychometrically, the broad-field science assessment is valid and reliable and is designed to measure the level of content knowledge required of a beginning teacher who has completed a state-approved program in broad-field science."
Georgia also pointed out that it offers separate assessments that align with state-approved preparation programs in the fields of biology, chemistry and physics.
The general science endorsement referred to in this analysis is the state's secondary certification in "Broad Field Science," which is discussed in Goal 1-G.
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, Pressely, DeAngelis "Leveling up: Narrowing the teacher academic capital gap in Illinois" Illinois Education Research Council (2008); D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "Does teacher certification matter? High School Certification Status and Student Achievement." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. 22: 129-145. (2000); and 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).