Secondary Teacher Preparation in Science:
Mississippi

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy

Goal

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

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

Analysis of Mississippi's policies

Mississippi offers a supplemental endorsement in general science, which can be added to a certificate with 21 hours of coursework in the subject. A content test is not required. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general science but rather can teach any of the topical areas. The state also offers an endorsement in physical science, which combines physics and chemistry. Candidates are required to pass the Praxis II "Physical Science" test, which combines both physics and chemistry.

Middle school science teachers in Mississippi are required to earn a 21-hour content concentration in science, which can include three to six hours of pedagogy classes. Commendably, candidates must also pass the Praxis II "Middle School Science" test.

Citation

Recommendations for Mississippi

Require secondary science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each science discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general science certifications or combination licenses across multiple science disciplines—and do not require content tests for each area—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. Even though general science is a supplemental endorsement, Mississippi is effectively allowing candidates with minimal coursework in a particular area of science—and no testing requirement—to teach virtually any science subject at the secondary level.

State response to our analysis

Mississippi recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

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).