Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that science teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Missouri offers general science certification for secondary teachers. Candidates must take two semester hours of history/philosophy of science and technology, as well as a total of 30 hours of science courses that include chemistry, biology, physics, earth science, astronomy and environmental science. They are also required to pass the Praxis II "General Science" test. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general science but rather can teach any of the topical areas.
Middle school science teachers in Missouri must earn a minimum of 21 semester hours in science and, commendably, must also pass the Praxis II "Middle School Science" test.
Compendium of Missouri Certification Requirements http://www.dese.mo.gov/schoollaw/rulesregs/EducCertManual/Index.htm Praxis Testing Requirements www.ets.org
Require secondary science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each science discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general science certifications—and only require a general knowledge science exam—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. Missouri's required assessment combines all subject areas (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics) and does not report separate scores for each subject area. Therefore, candidates could answer many—perhaps all—chemistry questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach chemistry to high school students.
Missouri asserted that candidates may earn certification in both categorical science and unified science. Categorical sciences (biology, chemistry, earth science and physics) require 20 hours in the particular science area supported by 10 hours of another related science field. Categorical general science includes 30 hours of content coursework in six categories. These individuals are allowed to teach only general science classes at the high school level. The unified science certificate requires 20 hours of science specific to the categorical areas of biology, chemistry, earth science and physics. Candidates must pass the content-specific Praxis II test in their categorical/unified area of science.
NCTQ is unable to find policy that limits teachers with a general science certificate to teaching only general science courses. Rather than rely on assumed common understandings regarding which courses a teacher with a general science certificate may or may not teach, Missouri should articulate specific policy ensuring that all science teachers are required to pass a subject-specific content test for each area they plan to teach.