Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science:
Georgia

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science: Georgia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/GA-Secondary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Science-6

Analysis of Georgia's policies

Georgia offers a secondary certification in "Broad Field Science." Candidates are required to complete a major in one of the science specialty areas (biology, chemistry, earth and space science, physics) and at least two additional areas of concentration, defined as at least 15 semester hours of content that address the appropriate specialty area standards. They must also pass the GACE "Science" assessment, which consists of two subtests: The first includes earth science and life science, and the second includes physical science and characteristics of science.

Middle school science teachers in Georgia are required to complete at least two areas of concentration in the following areas: reading, language arts, mathematics, science or social science. Commendably, candidates must also pass the specific GACE "Middle Grades Science" assessment.

Citation

Recommendations for Georgia

Require secondary science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each science discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general science certifications—and only require a general knowledge social studies exam—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. However, although Georgia's testing requirements fall short of ensuring mastery of each science disciple, the fact that candidates have to pass each subtest to pass the overall test means the state is on the right track.

State response to our analysis

Georgia 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).