Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy
The state should ensure that social studies teachers know all the subject matter they are licensed to teach.
Nebraska offers a secondary endorsement in general social science. Candidates are required to take 60 semester hours of coursework in the social sciences (economics, geography, history, political science, psychology, and either anthropology or sociology). This includes at least 21 semester hours in history, of which nine must be in U.S. history and nine in world history. The remaining social science areas require a minimum of six semester hours each. Teachers with this license are not limited to teaching general social studies but rather can teach any of the topical areas. Candidates are not required to pass a content test.
Middle school social science teachers in Nebraska must complete a content area of specialization in social science, which requires a minimum of 18 semester hours. A content test is not required. Also, although Nebraska's elementary license is typically valid for grades 1-6, teacher candidates may teach grades 7 and 8 if they are in self-contained classrooms (see Goal 1-E).
Nebraska Administrative Code 92-24-006.40; .55
Require secondary social science teachers to pass tests of content knowledge for each social science discipline they intend to teach.
Although coursework plays a key role in teachers' acquisition of content knowledge, it should be accompanied by the requirement of an assessment, which is the only way to ensure that teachers possess adequate knowledge of the subject area.
Require middle school social science teachers to pass a test of content knowledge that ensures sufficient knowledge of social science.
Nebraska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that it does not agree with NCTQ's assertion that Nebraska does not ensure that secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach appropriate grade-level content. NCTQ indicators are focused on testing and the fact that Nebraska does not require tests for licensure. Because the NCTQ standard is to require content tests, rather than focus on whether the preparation program ensures that secondary teachers are sufficiently prepared to teach the content, NCTQ's rating is correct by its standard.
As noted in Goal 1-F, Nebraska is putting unjustified faith in the relevance and rigor of coursework. While the state does make sure there is course coverage of all of the areas included under the social sciences, many can be taught with just six semester hours. It is difficult to see that this could ensure knowledge of appropriate breadth and depth to prepare teachers for the secondary classroom.