Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that its teacher preparation programs provide elementary teachers with a broad liberal arts education, the necessary foundation for teaching to the Common Core Standards.
Although Missouri has adopted the Common Core Standards, the state does not ensure that its elementary teacher candidates are adequately prepared to teach the rigorous content associated with these standards.
Missouri requires candidates to pass the Praxis II test "Elementary Education: Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment," which, unfortunately, not only combines content with a pedagogy assessment but also does not report teacher performance in each subject area, meaning that it is possible to pass the test and still fail some subject areas, especially given the state's low passing score. Further, based on available information on the Praxis II, there is no reason to expect that the current version would be well aligned with the Common Core Standards.
In addition, all teacher candidates in Missouri must complete study in the arts, communications, history, literature, philosophy, sciences and the social sciences. Specifically, elementary teachers must complete courses in economics, geography, health, and art or music. (For math requirements, see Goal 1-D.) Further, candidates must have a total of at least 21 semester hours in an area of concentration. These are good requirements, but they are defined too broadly to guarantee that the courses used to meet them will be relevant to the topics taught in the PK-6 classroom.
Missouri has also articulated an extensive list of content standards that include important topics such as history, geography and the social sciences; physical, life, earth and space science; and the arts. However, the state's standards draw heavily on the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) standards and offer no specific mention of world and American history; or world, British and American literature. While Missouri's standards do mention important topics in science, even those areas are too ambiguous to be useful.
Finally, there is no assurance that arts and sciences faculty will teach liberal arts classes to elementary teacher candidates.
Compendium of Certification Requirements http://www.dese.mo.gov/schoollaw/rulesregs/EducCertManual/Index.htm MoSTEP Teacher Education Standards dese.mo.gov/schoollaw/rulesregs/documents/MoSTEP_10-06.pdf Subject Competencies http://dese.mo.gov/divteachqual/teached/competencies/ Praxis II www.ets.org
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Missouri should ensure that its subject-matter test for elementary teacher candidates is well aligned with the Common Core Standards, which represent an effort to significantly raise the standards for the knowledge and skills American students will need for college readiness and global competitiveness.
The state should also require separate passing scores for each content area on the test because without them it is impossible to measure knowledge of individual subjects. Further, to be meaningful, Missouri should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
Missouri should either articulate a more specific set of standards or establish comprehensive coursework requirements that are specifically geared to the areas of knowledge needed by PK-6 teachers. Further, the state should align its requirements for elementary teacher candidates with the Common Core Standards to ensure that candidates will complete coursework relevant to the common topics in elementary grades. An adequate curriculum is likely to require approximately 36 credit hours in the core subject areas of English, science, social studies and fine arts.
Require at least an academic concentration.
Although Missouri's policy requires that elementary teacher candidates have an area of concentration, the state's language does not ensure that these teachers will earn a content specialization in an academic subject area.
Ensure that arts and sciences faculty teach liberal arts coursework.
Although an education professor is best suited to teach effective methodologies in subject instruction, faculty from the university's college of arts and sciences should provide subject-matter foundation.
Missouri was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. The state also noted that it is currently considering the adoption of an elementary contest test that will include subscores in reading, language arts, social studies, science and mathematics. Further, the state has released a Request for Proposal that includes the development and/or adoption of an elementary multi-subjects test that renders subscores in each content area.
Missouri also asserted that the Missouri Standards for Teacher Educator Preparation (MoSTEP) address requirements for professional education faculty. The MoSTEP Review Approval Process assumes that the arts and sciences coursework are taught by arts and sciences faculty in the liberal arts content areas, and this information is noted during the MoSTEP Review Approval Process. Therefore, the arts and sciences courses are taught by liberal arts and sciences faculty—not those in professional education.
NCTQ commends the efforts of states, like Missouri, that have advocated for a new elementary education test from ETS. Requiring subscores for each of the content areas is a significant step toward ensuring that all elementary teachers possess the requisite knowledge for the classroom. NCTQ looks forward to reviewing Missouri's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.
To ensure that current common practices remain in effect, Missouri is urged to codify requirements regarding arts and sciences faculty teaching subject-area coursework.