The state should ensure that social studies teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Kentucky only offers a general social studies certification to secondary teachers. Candidates are required to pass both the Praxis II "Social Studies: Content Knowledge" test and the "Social Studies: Interpretation of Materials" test. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general social studies but rather can teach any of the topical areas.
Middle school social studies teachers in Kentucky have two options for earning the middle school specialization. The first is completing a major in social studies; the second is completing an unspecified amount of coursework in social studies and another academic field (i.e., English and communications, mathematics or science). Commendably, candidates must also pass the Praxis II "Middle School Social Studies" test.
Require secondary social studies teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each social studies discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general social studies certifications—and only require a general knowledge social studies exam—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. Kentucky's required assessments combine all subject areas (e.g., history, geography, economics) and do not report separate scores for each subject area. Therefore, candidates could answer many history questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach history to high school students.
Kentucky recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.