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 Louisiana 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.
Louisiana 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.
In addition, Louisiana requires all teacher candidates to complete 54 credit hours of general education coursework requirements, including:
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Louisiana 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, Louisiana should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
Louisiana should either articulate a specific set of standards or establish more 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 Louisiana 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.
Louisiana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.