Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
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 Idaho has adopted the Common Core Standards, the state does not ensure that its elementary teacher candidates are adequately prepared to teach the rigorous content associated with these standards.
Idaho requires candidates to pass the Praxis II general elementary content test, which does not report teacher performance in each subject area, meaning that it is possible to pass the test and still fail some subject areas, especially given the state's low passing score. Further, based on available information on the Praxis II, there is no reason to expect that the current version would be well aligned with the Common Core Standards.
The state now requires that all candidates seeking an elementary education endorsement earn a subject-area endorsement (allowing the teaching of that subject through grade 9) or a K-12 endorsement as outlined in the requirements for a secondary certificate.
Although the state does not specify any coursework requirements for general education or elementary teacher candidates, Idaho's standards for elementary education teachers articulate that candidates must "understand the concepts" of subjects such as language arts, science, social studies and the arts. These are important curricular areas, but this statement is far too ambiguous to set a meaningful standard for holding either programs or teachers accountable.
Finally, there is no assurance that arts and sciences faculty will teach liberal arts classes to elementary teacher candidates.
Idaho Administrative Code 08.02.02.018 Idaho Standards for Initial Certification http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/teacher_certification/accredited.htm Praxis II www.ets.org
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Idaho 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.
The state should also require separate passing scores for each content area on the test because without them it is impossible to measure knowledge of individual subjects. Further, to be meaningful, Idaho should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
Idaho 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 Idaho 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. Idaho's requirement of a subject-area endorsement is a step in the right direction; however, there is no limitation to academic subject areas relevant to the elementary classrooms.
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.
Idaho was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state added that it is currently considering a Praxis II test for elementary teachers that would report subscores in all areas.
NCTQ commends the efforts of states, like Idaho, that have advocated for a new elementary education test from ETS. Requiring subscores for each of the content areas is a significant step toward ensuring that all elementary teachers possess the requisite knowledge for the classroom. NCTQ looks forward to reviewing Idaho's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.