The state should ensure that social studies teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Mississippi only offers a secondary general social studies certificate. Candidates are required to pass the Praxis II "Social Studies" content test. The state also allows general social studies to be added as a supplemental endorsement either with a passing score on the Praxis II content test or with 21 hours of coursework. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general social studies but rather can teach any of the topical areas.
Middle school social studies teachers in Mississippi are required to earn a 21-hour content concentration in social studies, which can include three to six hours of pedagogy classes. Commendably, candidates must also pass the Praxis II "Middle School Social Studies" test.
Require secondary social studies teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each social studies discipline they intend to teach.
States that allow general social studies certifications—and do not require content tests for each area—are not ensuring that these secondary teachers possess adequate subject-specific content knowledge. Mississippi's required assessment combines all subject areas (e.g., history, geography, economics) and does not report separate scores for each subject area. Therefore, candidates could answer many history questions, for example, incorrectly, yet still be licensed to teach history to high school students.
Mississippi recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state noted that it has added an economics endorsement, which may be earned by passing a Praxis test.