Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science:
Minnesota

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.

Meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science: Minnesota results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/MN-Secondary-Teacher-Preparation-in-Science-6

Analysis of Minnesota's policies

Commendably, Minnesota does not offer certification in general science for secondary teachers. 

Middle school science teachers must earn a specific middle level endorsement, which requires a minor in science and an initial license in either elementary or secondary teaching. Commendably, candidates must also pass the MTLE Middle Level Science test.

Regrettably, however, teachers holding elementary K-6 licenses may also teach grades 7 and 8 in self-contained classrooms (see Goal 1-E).

Citation

Recommendations for Minnesota

State response to our analysis

Minnesota asserted that although the reference to self-contained classrooms taught by teachers with a K-6 license is accurate, it should be noted that these settings are very rare and represent very unique student populations such as those in a one-room schoolhouse: "The vast majority of teachers teach in a middle school, junior high school, or combined middle and high school, and are held to the requirement of a content-specific endorsement."

Research rationale

For an examination of how science teacher preparation positively impacts student achievement, see Goldhaber, D., & Brewer, D. (2000). Does teacher certification matter? High school certification status and student achievement, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 22, 129-145; Monk, D. (1994). Subject area preparation of secondary mathematics and science teachers and student achievement, Economics of Education Review, 12(2):125-145; Rothman, A., (1969). Teacher characteristics and student learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 6(4), 340-348.  

See also, NCTQ "The All-Purpose Science Teacher: An Analysis of Loopholes in State Requirements for High School Science Teachers."(2010). 

In addition, research studies have demonstrated the positive impact of teacher content knowledge on student achievement.  For example, see D. Goldhaber, "Everyone's Doing It, But What Does Teacher Testing Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness?" Journal of Human Resources, vol. XLII no.4 (2007).  See also Harris, D., and Sass, T., "Teacher Training, Teacher Quality and Student Achievement". Teacher Quality Research (2007). Evidence can also be found in White, Presely, DeAngelis "Leveling up: Narrowing the teacher academic capital gap in Illinois," Illinois Education Research Council (2008); D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "Why Don't Schools and Teachers Seem to Matter? Assessing the impact of Unobservables on Educational Productivity." Journal of Human Resources (1998).