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.
New Hampshire has adopted the Common Core Standards, and the state is on the right track in ensuring that its elementary teacher candidates are adequately prepared to teach the rigorous content associated with these standards.
New Hampshire requires candidates to pass the Praxis II general elementary content test, which does not report teacher performance in each subject area, meaning that it is possible to pass the test and still fail some subject areas, especially given the state's low passing score. Further, based on available information on the Praxis II, there is no reason to expect that the current version would be well aligned with the Common Core Standards. In addition, candidates with master's degrees in the subject area to be taught are exempted from the Praxis II test; it is unclear whether such an exemption would apply to elementary teacher candidates.
In addition, all teacher candidates in New Hampshire, including elementary teacher candidates, must complete an area of concentration (10 courses above the institution's introductory level) in a field such as humanities, fine arts, social sciences and sciences. Although this is an important requirement in that it ensures that teacher candidates have taken higher-level academic coursework and provides an option for teacher candidates unable to fulfill student teaching or other professional requirements to still earn a degree, it may be too broad to guarantee that the courses used to meet it will be relevant to the topics taught in the PK-6 classroom.
New Hampshire has also articulated elementary teaching standards that its approved teacher preparation programs must use. These standards are better than those found in many states, alluding to important areas of academic knowledge. For example, in the area of social studies, teacher candidates must be able to:
Require a content test that ensures sufficient knowledge in all subjects.
New Hampshire 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, New Hampshire should ensure that these passing scores reflect high levels of performance.
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.
New Hampshire added that it recently participated in a Multi-State Standard Setting Study for the new Elementary Education Praxis II test, which was developed after the release of the Common Core Standards. This new test will provide a required cut score for each of the four subtests. The Department of Education will bring this test forward to the State Board of Education after final review by ETS.
In a subsequent response, New Hampshire stated that the new Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects Praxis II test has been adopted by the State Board of Education. The test is available immediately and will be required beginning July 1, 2012.
NCTQ commends the efforts of states, like New Hampshire, that have advocated for a new elementary education test from ETS. Requiring subscores for each of the content areas is a significant step toward ensuring that all elementary teachers possess the requisite knowledge for the classroom. NCTQ looks forward to reviewing New Hampshire's progress in future editions of the Yearbook.