Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science:
Iowa

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science: Iowa results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/IA-Secondary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Science-6

Analysis of Iowa's policies

Iowa offers a general science endorsement; candidates must complete 24 semester hours of coursework  that includes biological science, chemistry and physics. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general science but rather can teach any of the topical areas. The state also offers a physical science endorsement, which requires 24 semester hours in physical sciences and includes coursework in physics, chemistry and earth science. Regrettably, secondary teachers in Iowa are not required to pass a content test.

Middle school teachers in Iowa must complete a science concentration, which requires 12 semester hours of coursework that includes life science, earth science and physical science. Middle school teachers in Iowa are also not required to pass a content test.

Citation

Recommendations for Iowa

Require secondary science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each science discipline they intend to teach.
Although coursework plays a key role in teachers' acquisition of content knowledge, it should be accompanied by the requirement of an assessment, which is the only way to ensure that teachers possess adequate knowledge of the subject area.

Require middle school science teachers to pass a test of content knowledge that ensures sufficient knowledge of science.

State response to our analysis

Iowa 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).