Secondary Teacher Preparation: Massachusetts

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state should ensure that secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content.

Meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Secondary Teacher Preparation: Massachusetts results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Massachusetts's policies

Massachusetts requires that its secondary teacher candidates pass a content test to teach any core secondary subjects.  Unfortunately, Massachusetts permits a significant loophole to this important policy by only requiring its social studies teachers to pass a general content test, rather than subject-matter testing for each subject area within the discipline (see Goal 1-H).

Further, to add an additional field to a secondary license, teachers must also pass a content test. However, as stated above, Massachusetts cannot guarantee content knowledge in each specific subject for those secondary teachers who add social studies endorsements. 


Recommendations for Massachusetts

Require subject-matter testing for all secondary teacher candidates.
Massachusetts wisely requires subject-matter tests for most secondary teachers but should address any loopholes that undermine this policy (see Goal 1-H). This applies to the addition of endorsements as well.

State response to our analysis

Massachusetts recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. However, the state asserted that it does not offer a social studies license or endorsement. 

Last word

For the purpose of this goal, the generic term "social studies endorsement" is used to describe the state's secondary history and political science/political philosophy certificates, which require tests that combine subject areas within social studies and do not report subscores (see Goal 1-H).  

Research rationale

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).  See also Harris, D., and Sass, T., "Teacher Training, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement." Teacher Quality Research (2007).Evidence can also be found in White, Pressely, 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).