Secondary Teacher Preparation in Social
Studies: Indiana

2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Best Practice
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Secondary Teacher Preparation in Social Studies: Indiana results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/IN-Secondary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Social-Studies-6

Analysis of Indiana's policies

Indiana articulates that secondary social studies teachers must qualify for a concentration in at least one of the following content areas: economics, geographical perspectives, government and citizenship, historical perspectives, psychology or sociology. The state also stipulates that teachers may only teach in the social studies areas of concentration. Further, as of September 1, 2012, candidates must pass the subject-specific Praxis II content test; the general social studies test will no longer be available. 

Commendably, the state requires middle school social studies teachers to pass the Praxis II "Middle School Social Studies" test.

Citation

Recommendations for Indiana

State response to our analysis

Indiana was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.

How we graded

Is a social studies teacher prepared to teach history?

Just as with broad field science, most states offer a general social studies license at the secondary level.  For this certification, teachers can have a background in a wide variety of fields, ranging from history and political science to anthropology or psychology. Under such a license a teacher who majored in psychology could be licensed to teach secondary history having passed only a general knowledge test and answering most—and perhaps all—history questions incorrectly.

Middle school social studies teachers must know middle grade-level social studies.  

Middle school teachers should demonstrate their knowledge of social studies through a test with a separate passing score for this subject area. General knowledge tests with an overall passing score can mask serious weaknesses in teachers' content knowledge. As problematic as general tests with a composite passing score are for elementary teachers, the problem is exacerbated for middle school teachers, who may well teach only one subject in a departmentalized setting.  

Research rationale

Carlisle, J. F., Correnti, R., Phelps, G., & Zeng, J., "Exploration of the contribution of teachers' knowledge about reading to their students' improvement in reading." Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 22, 459-486 (2009) 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, vol. XLII no.4 (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, "Does teacher certification matter? High School Certification Status and Student Achievement." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. 22: 129-145. (2000); 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 (1998). See also Harris, D., and Sass, T., "Teacher Training, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement." Teacher Quality Research (2007).