2017 Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Content Test Requirements: Louisiana offers single-subject secondary licenses to teach grades 6-12. The state requires that its secondary teacher candidates pass a Praxis II content test to teach any core secondary subjects.
Endorsements: To add a core subject area to a secondary license, teachers in Louisiana must either submit a passing score on the Praxis II content test or complete 30 credit hours in the content area.
Secondary Licensure Deficiencies: Unfortunately, Louisiana allows general science and social studies licenses without requiring subject-matter testing for each subject area within these disciplines. Because secondary content testing loopholes are scored in 3-E: Secondary Licensure Deficiencies, it is not considered as part of the score for the Secondary Content Knowledge goal.
Praxis Test Requirement www.ets.org Louisiana Administrative Code Title 28, Bulletin 746, Section 211, 243, and 611
Require subject-matter testing for all secondary teacher candidates.
Louisiana wisely requires subject-matter tests for most secondary teachers but should address any loopholes that undermine this policy (see 3-E: Secondary Licensure Deficiencies analysis and recommendations). This applies to the addition of endorsements as well.
Require subject-matter testing when adding subject-area endorsements.
Louisiana should require passing scores on subject-specific content tests, regardless of other coursework or degree requirements, for teachers who are licensed in core secondary subjects and wish to add another subject area, or endorsement, to their licenses. Although coursework may be generally indicative of background in a particular subject area, only a subject-matter test ensures that teachers know the specific content they will need to teach.
Louisiana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also indicated that In October 2016, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) adopted updated competencies, including literacy competencies, that identify the essential knowledge and skills that aspiring teachers must demonstrate in order to be eligible for initial certification. According to the state, its competencies for initial teacher certification define what a teacher candidate must know and be able to do in order to be eligible for certification upon completion of a BESE-approved teacher preparation program, and they are aligned with student standards.
In addition, Louisiana noted that the competencies were developed in collaboration with content experts, elementary and secondary educators, and post-secondary education leaders. Preparation providers and their school system partners co-construct preparation experiences that develop these competencies through quality practice experiences, including a yearlong residency.
3D: Secondary Content Knowledge
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 a rigorous, subject-matter specific test ensures that teacher candidates are sufficiently and appropriately knowledgeable in their content area. In fact, research suggests that a positive correlation exists between teachers' content knowledge and the academic achievement of their students. 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, whereas a rigorous content test could verify aspiring teachers' knowledge in each topic area.
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. Even states that require a content test for initial licensure should require an additional content test for adding an endorsement.