The state should ensure that social studies teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Michigan offers secondary certification in general social studies. Candidates must earn either a social studies group major of 36 semester hours, or a comprehensive group major, with a minimum of 50 semester hours. They must also pass the MTTC "Social Studies" test, which combines all social studies areas but does not report individual scores for specific subjects. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general social studies but rather can teach any of the topical areas.
Middle school social studies teachers in Michigan have the option of earning the elementary social studies endorsement, which requires a group major of 36 semester hours. Commendably, candidates must also pass the MTTC "Social Studies" test. Unfortunately, the state also allows middle school teachers to teach on a generalist K-8 license (see Goal 1-E).
Specialty Program Standards http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,1607,7-140-6530_5683_6368—-,00.html Michigan Test for Teacher Certification www.mttc.nesinc.com
Require secondary social studies teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each social studies discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general social studies certifications—and do not require content tests for each area—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. Michigan's required assessment combines all subject areas (e.g., history, geography, economics) and does not report separate scores for each subject area. Therefore, candidates could answer many history questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach history to high school students.
Michigan recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that NCTQ did not distinguish K-8 self-contained authorization from K-8 departmentalized classrooms, in which middle school teachers with an elementary certificate would be required to hold an additional content endorsement.
The issue of K-8 licenses is addressed and factored into the score in Goal 1-E. For the purposes of this goal, it is only mentioned to point out that middle school teachers on that license need not have passed the "Social Studies" test. This is equally problematic whether middle school-level social studies is taught in a self-contained or departmentalized classroom.