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 North Carolina 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.
Regrettably, North Carolina does not require content tests for initial licensure; such tests are only mandated once candidates apply for the standard professional 2 license, usually after three years.
In addition, the state does not specify any coursework requirements for general education or elementary teacher candidates, and it has only articulated a broad set of standards for programs to apply in preparing elementary candidates, including that they "have broad knowledge across disciplines."
Finally, there is no assurance that arts and sciences faculty will teach liberal arts classes to elementary teacher candidates.
Board of Education Policy Manual, TCP-A-003 http://sbepolicy.dpi.state.nc.us/ Teacher Certification http://www.ncpublicschools.org/licensure/steps/ North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards http://www.ncptsc.org/Final%20Standards%20Document.pdf
Require a content test—as a condition of licensure—that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
North Carolina 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, North Carolina should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
Provide broad liberal arts coursework relevant to the elementary classroom.
North Carolina 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. 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.
Require at least an academic concentration.
An academic concentration, if not a full academic major, would not only enhance North Carolina 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.
North Carolina recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state noted that it has recently added a math education add-on license for elementary teacher candidates. Science and reading add-on licenses are currently being piloted.
Further, North Carolina has initiated professional development on the Common Core Standards with institutions of higher education (IHEs). Individual IHE campuses may specify coursework requirements above and beyond state requirements, which results in content-specific coursework for many teacher candidates.