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 Mississippi 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.
Mississippi 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, Mississippi requires that all elementary teacher candidates complete an interdisciplinary program of study that includes two 18- or 21-hour content concentrations. These shall include, but are not limited to:
Mississippi Educator Preparation Programs, Process and Performance Reviews http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/ed_licensure/teacher_education.html Praxis II www.ets.org
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Mississippi 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, Mississippi should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
Mississippi should either articulate a more specific set of standards or establish more 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.
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.
Mississippi recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it is working toward phasing in the Common Core Standards within the school districts beginning with the 2011-2012 school year. School year 2010-2011 was used to adopt and begin implementation of the Common Core Standards. Training was provided for school district personnel, and Mississippi's teacher education program faculty was invited to attend in order to facilitate the phasing-in process.