The state should ensure that secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content and for the ways that college- and career-readiness standards affect instruction of all subject areas.
Indiana requires that its secondary teacher candidates pass a content test to teach any core secondary subjects.
Indiana also requires teachers to pass a content test to add an additional field to a secondary license.
Indiana addresses some of the instructional shifts associated with college- and career-readiness standards by requiring secondary English teachers to pass the newly developed CORE Assessments English Language Arts test. This test includes some of the instructional shifts toward building content knowledge and vocabulary through careful reading of informational and literary texts associated with college- and career-readiness standards for students.
Literacy is also addressed in content test standards for the sciences. For example, chemistry teachers must "have a broad and comprehensive understanding of content-specific instruction and assessment in science," which includes the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects. Further, they must demonstrate "strategies and resources for promoting students' reading ... in science."
Regarding struggling readers, the standards for Indiana's new test requires knowledge of "strategies for differentiating instruction in English language arts to meet the needs of diverse learners, such as students with varying levels of reading proficiency or varying linguistic backgrounds." New legislation in Indiana also requires teacher preparation programs to prepare candidates to be able "to recognize a student who is not progressing at a normal rate related to reading and may need to be referred to the school's multidisciplinary team...."
Testing Requirements http://www.in.nesinc.com/ 515 Indiana Administrative Code 515 IAC 8-1-1.5; 8-1-3; 8-2-1 House Enrolled Act 1108 (2015)
Ensure that secondary teachers are prepared to meet the instructional requirements of college- and career-readiness standards for students.
Incorporate informational text of increasing complexity into classroom instruction.
Although Indiana's required secondary English language arts content test addresses informational texts, the state should strengthen its policy and ensure that teachers are able to challenge students with texts of increasing complexity.
Incorporate literacy skills as an integral part of every subject.
Indiana is commended for addressing literacy in its content test standards for the sciences. The state is encouraged to further strengthen its policy and include literacy skills and using text as a means to build content knowledge in history/social studies, technical subjects and the arts.
Support struggling readers.
Indiana should articulate more specific requirements ensuring that secondary teachers are prepared to intervene and support students who are struggling. While college- and career-readiness standards will increase the need for all secondary teachers to be able to help struggling readers to comprehend grade-level material, training for English language arts teachers in particular must emphasize identification and remediation of reading deficiencies.
Ensure meaningful content tests.
To ensure that its secondary content tests are meaningful, Indiana should reevaluate its passing scores so that all tests reflect high levels of performance.
Indiana was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. Indiana also indicated that the state provides summer professional development opportunities for teachers focused on literacy across content areas. The purpose is to provide educators an opportunity to "focus on building instructional best practices that support Indiana’s Academic Standards, ways to utilize and discuss data to drive interventions, components of effective leadership to drive school improvement efforts, and developing supportive and responsive evaluation practices." School leadership teams, instructional coaches, elementary and secondary teachers, secondary English/Language Arts and Math teachers, and secondary content teachers are encouraged to participate.
Indiana indicated that the state will be requiring teacher preparation programs to meet CAEP standards, which include a focus on helping students achieve college-and career-readiness standards. Reading instruction has been expanded to include "interventions that are direct, explicit, and multi-sensory," and teacher preparation programs have been instructed to incorporate this into their programs. The Indiana Department of Education will be monitoring implementation of this new requirement in order to ensure compliance.
Completion of coursework provides no assurance that prospective teachers know the specific content they will teach.
Secondary teachers must be experts in the subject matter they teach, and only a rigorous test ensures that teacher candidates are sufficiently and appropriately knowledgeable in their content area. Coursework is generally only indicative of background in a subject area; even a major offers no certainty of what content has been covered. A history major, for example, could have studied relatively little American history or almost exclusively American history. To assume that the major has adequately prepared the candidate to teach American history, European history or ancient civilizations is an unwarranted leap of faith.
Requirements should be just as rigorous when adding an endorsement to an existing license.
Many states will allow teachers to add a content area endorsement to their license simply on the basis of having completed coursework. As described above, the completion of coursework does not offer assurance of specific content knowledge. Some states require a content test for initial licensure but not for adding an endorsement, even if the endorsement is in a completely unrelated subject.
College- and career-readiness standards require significant shifts in literacy instruction.
College- and career-readiness standards for K-12 students adopted by nearly all states require from teachers a different focus on literacy integrated into all subject areas. The standards demand that teachers are prepared to bring complex text and academic language into regular use, emphasize the use of evidence from informational and literary texts and build knowledge and vocabulary through content-rich text. While most states have not ignored teachers' need for training and professional development related to these instructional shifts, few states have attended to the parallel need to align teacher competencies and requirements for teacher preparation so that new teachers will enter the classroom ready to help students meet the expectations of these standards. Particularly for secondary teachers of subjects other than English language arts, these instructional shifts may be especially acute.
Secondary Teacher Preparation: Supporting Research
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, Volume 42, No. 4, Fall 2007, pp. 765-794. See also D. Harris and T. Sass, "Teacher Training,Teacher Quality, and Student Achievement". Calder Institute,March 2007, Working Paper 3. Evidence can also be found in B. White, J. Presley, and K. DeAngelis "Leveling Up: Narrowing the Teacher Academic Capital Gap in Illinois", Illinois Education Research Council, Policy Research Report: IERC 2008-1, 44 p.; D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "Does Teacher Certification Matter? High School Teacher Certification Status and Student Achievement." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Volume 22, No. 2, June 20, 2000, pp. 129-145; 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, Volume 32, No. 3, Summer 1997, pp. 505-523.
J. Carlisle, R. Correnti, G. Phelps, and J. Zeng, "Exploration of the contribution of teachers' knowledge about reading to their students' improvement in reading." Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 22, No. 4, April 2009, pp. 457-486, includes evidence specifically related to the importance of secondary social studies knowledge.
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, Volume 42, No. 4, Fall 2007, pp. 765-794. 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, "Does Teacher Certification Matter? High School Teacher Certification Status and Student Achievement." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Volume 22, No. 2, June 20, 2000, pp. 129-145; 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, Volume 32, No. 3, Summer 1997, pp. 505-523. See also D. Harris and T. Sass, "Teacher Training, Teacher Quality, and Student Achievement". Calder Institute, March 2007, Working Paper 3.
For an extensive summary of the research base supporting the instructional shifts associated with college- and career-readiness standards, see "Research Supporting the Common Core ELA Literacy Shifts and Standards" available from Student Achievement Partners.