2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Illinois commendably requires secondary science teacher candidates to earn a specific subject-area designation (e.g., biology, physics) as part of the broad-field science endorsement. In addition to completing 32 semester hours of coursework, candidates must also pass the state's ICTS subject-specific content test. Regrettably, Illinois allows these candidates to teach all areas of science at the general level, regardless of the specific designation. However, to teach honors or AP classes, science teachers must have the designation in that particular area.
Middle school science teachers in Illinois must earn an endorsement in biological science, general science or physical science. They are required to complete at least 18 semester hours of coursework but are not required to pass a subject-specific content test. Further, Illinois allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K-9 license (see Goal 1-E).
23 Illinois Administrative Code 25.100 Endorsements of Teacher Certificates www.isbe.state.il.us/certification/requirements/section7.pdf
Require secondary science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each science discipline they intend to teach.
Although Illinois's policy ensures that science teachers who teach upper-level courses possess adequate subject matter knowledge, it falls short when it comes to general-level courses. A biology teacher, having only passed the state's biology content test, could go on to teach chemistry and physics—just not at the honors or AP level. The state should ensure that all students, not only those in advanced classes, have teachers with sufficient and appropriate content knowledge.
Require middle school science teachers to pass a test of content knowledge that ensures sufficient knowledge of science.
Illinois recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is in the process of developing science standards for middle grades, and it will also require separate content tests for middle grades science once the new rules are written. Illinois plans to work with secondary programs once other areas are complete.