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: Michigan offers single-subject secondary licenses to teach grades 6-12. The state's new certification structure will offer secondary licenses for grades 7-12, however, it is unclear at this time when those will be phased in. The state requires that its secondary teacher candidates pass a Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) content test to teach any core secondary subjects. However the state allows a noncertificated, nonendorsed teacher to teach computer science, a foreign language, mathematics, biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, or robotics in grades 9-12, if they meet the following requirements:
Require subject-matter testing for all secondary teacher candidates.
Michigan should require subject-matter testing for all secondary teacher candidates in every core academic area they intend to teach, including the STEM fields, as a condition of initial licensure.
Michigan was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
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.