2011 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 Montana 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.
Unfortunately, Montana has yet to adopt subject-matter testing requirements for any of its teachers.
Although the state does not specify any coursework requirements for general education or elementary teacher candidates, Montana's standards for its elementary teacher preparation programs specify some important topics, such as reading, language and literature; physical, life, earth and space sciences; and government, geography and economics. All teacher candidates must also "demonstrate understanding of and ability to integrate knowledge of the history, cultural heritage, and contemporary status of American Indians and tribes in Montana." These standards are the strongest indicators Montana has articulated regarding subject-matter training for elementary teacher candidates, but they are still far from complete.
Finally, there is no assurance that arts and sciences faculty will teach liberal arts classes to elementary teacher candidates.
Administrative Rules of Montana 10.58.501, .508
Require a content test—as a condition of licensure—that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
Montana should adopt a subject-matter test for elementary teacher candidates and 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, Montana should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
Montana 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. 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.
An academic concentration, if not a full academic major, would not only enhance Montana teachers' content knowledge, but it would also ensure that prospective teachers have taken higher-level academic coursework. Further, it would provide an option for teacher candidates unable to fulfill student teaching or other professional requirements to still earn a degree.
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.
Montana declined to respond to NCTQ's analyses.