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.
Massachusetts has adopted the Common Core Standards, and the state is on the right track in ensuring that its elementary teacher candidates are adequately prepared to teach the rigorous content associated with these standards.
In Massachusetts, elementary teachers are required to pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) general curriculum test, which does not report teacher performance in each subject area.
Massachusetts also requires elementary teacher candidates to complete at least 36 semester hours in upper-and lower-level arts and sciences coursework. According to the state, "some of this coursework might also count toward the required arts or sciences major."
Further, the MTEL content tests articulate important subject-matter requirements. English requirements include children's and young adult literature, adult literature, and classical and contemporary works. History and social science requirements include Massachusetts and U.S. history from colonial times to the present, world history with stress on Western civilization, economics and geography. Science requirements include life and physical sciences.
Although not addressed on the subject-matter test, Massachusetts also requires approved programs to include the following topics: science laboratory work, child development, visual and performing arts, physical education, and personal and family health.
Commendably, Massachusetts ensures that arts and sciences faculty will teach liberal arts classes to elementary teacher candidates.
Code of Massachusetts Regulations 603 CMR 7.03 and 7.06 Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure www.mtel.nesinc.com
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Massachusetts 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.
Massachusetts asserted that it requires elementary and special educators to take a separately scored math subtest. Candidates for the elementary license, students with moderate disabilities license and those who teach the visually impaired must also pass a Foundations of Reading test. Scores are reported by test subarea, allowing for a more detailed review of performance. "The MTEL tests reflect the current subject-matter knowledge requirements for licensure, which in turn, reflect the state's curriculum frameworks."
Massachusetts also noted that tests are reviewed on a regular schedule by panels of the state's educators. It plans a comprehensive review of licensure standards in 2012-2013 to, among other things, ensure overall alignment with the Common Core Standards.
The state's reading and mathematics requirements, which NCTQ finds to be among the best in the country, are analyzed in detail in Goals 1-C and 1-D, respectively.