Secondary Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should ensure that secondary teachers demonstrate sufficient knowledge appropriate grade-level content. This goal was consistent between 2017 and 2020.
Content Test Requirements: Maine offers a single-subject license to teach the secondary grades; however, it is unclear whether the certificate is issued for grades 7-12 or grades 6-12. The state requires that its secondary teacher candidates pass a Praxis content test to teach any core secondary subjects. However, Maine cannot guarantee content knowledge in each specific subject for secondary teachers with general science or general social studies licenses.
Endorsements: To add an endorsement to an existing license, teachers in Maine can obtain a conditional certificate through a transitional pathway by completing nine credits of coursework toward the endorsement area. Content testing is not required until they apply for a professional certificate in endorsement area.
Secondary Licensure Deficiencies: Unfortunately, Maine allows both general science and general social studies licenses without requiring subject-matter testing for each subject area within these disciplines. Because secondary content testing loopholes are scored in Secondary Licensure Deficiencies, it is not considered as part of the score for the Secondary Content Knowledge goal.
Maine Revised Statute 20-A Chapter 502 Section 13013 Testing Requirement www.ets.org/praxis Rule 05-071 Chapter 115, Part II, Section 1.4 Requirements for an Endorsement https://www.maine.gov/doe/cert/teacherrequirements
Require subject-matter testing for all secondary teacher candidates.
Maine wisely requires subject-matter tests for most secondary teachers but should address any loopholes that undermine this policy (see Secondary Licensure Deficiencies analysis and recommendations). This applies to the addition of endorsements as well.
Require subject-matter testing when adding subject-area endorsements.
Maine 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.
Maine did not respond to NCTQ's request to review this analysis for accuracy.
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.