The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Although Maine does not offer a general science certification for secondary science teachers, it does offer a secondary endorsement in physical science. The first pathway to certification is completion of a Maine program; the state does not articulate further content requirements. The second, presumably for out-of-state candidates, requires candidates to complete 24 semester hours in an area relevant to the endorsement, which could include chemistry, physics, geology, earth science, soil science, astronomy, meteorology or oceanography. Regrettably, Maine does not specify that chemistry teachers must take a majority of coursework in chemistry or that physics teachers should earn most of their credits in physics. Candidates are also required to pass the Praxis II "Physical Science" test, which combines both physics and chemistry.
Middle school science teachers in Maine have the option of a middle grades science endorsement, and the state similarly outlines two pathways to certification. Commendably, these candidates must pass the Praxis II "Middle School Science" test. Regrettably, however, Maine also allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license (see Goal 1-E).
Require secondary science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each science discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow combination licenses across multiple science disciplines—and require only a comprehensive content test—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. Maine's required assessment combines both physics and chemistry and does not report separate scores for each subject. Therefore, a candidate could, for example, answer many physics questions incorrectly on the combination content test, yet still be licensed to teach physics to high school students.
Maine recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.