2011 Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
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 Maryland 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.
Maryland now requires candidates to pass the Praxis II "Elementary Education: Instructional Practice and Applications" test. Regrettably, this is not an adequate assessment of content knowledge. The description of topics assessed and sample questions focus almost exclusively on methods and instructional strategies, and although it is a sound approach to assess pedagogical knowledge in the context of specific content areas, that does not mean that such a test measures content knowledge.
In addition, Maryland requires that elementary education candidates complete a minimum of 12 semester hours in science and reading, and nine semester hours in both English and social studies. (For mathematics requirements, see Goal 1-D.)
Finally, there is no assurance that arts and sciences faculty will teach liberal arts classes to elementary teacher candidates.
COMAR 13A.12.02.04 Praxis II www.ets.org
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Maryland is urged to require an elementary assessment that adequately tests subject-matter knowledge, rather than its current selection, which is more a test of pedagogy.
Further, the state should ensure that this 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.
Maryland 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. To be meaningful, Maryland should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
Maryland 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 Maryland 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.
Ensure that arts and sciences faculty teach liberal arts coursework.
Although an education professor is best suited to teach effective methodologies in subject instruction, faculty from the university's college of arts and sciences should provide subject-matter foundation.
Maryland was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state added that through the program-approval process and ongoing monitoring, its preparation programs provide elementary teachers with a broad liberal arts education. "The methodology is standards-driven and performance-assessed. A prescriptive approach neglects candidates' overall and prior experience, representing a transcript analysis approach that is counterintuitive to individualized teacher development."
Maryland also asserted that it uses ACEI standards, which will be revised in 2013 with revisions mandatory for use in 2015, and noted that it has a rigorous teacher preparation evaluation and monitoring process in place that includes national content standards and outcomes as part of the content preparation for all teacher candidates.
The state also pointed out that its approved preparation programs include courses addressing the science of reading instruction. Teacher candidates cannot test out of the required 12 semester hours of reading, and the test-out option, which became available in September 2001, is only for in-service teachers who were certified prior to the implementation of the statewide reading course requirements.
Maryland's reading requirements for elementary teacher candidates are discussed in Goal 1-C.